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For streaming services, movies are kind of like the unsung hero: They don’t often get the attention that a high-profile series will deliver, but are remarkably good at getting subscribers in the door. Disney, for example, uses its theatrical films (as well as a regular cadence of Disney+ originals) to drive subscribers, and its original series’ to keep them there.
The streaming service for Fox News “super fans” is getting into the original movie business, green-lighting four films for the service. The first project, an adaptation of Nancy Naigle’s novel The Shell Collector, will debut on Fox Nation Sept. 1, with the next project timed to release during the holiday season.
“What we have really been efforting to do, as we did recently with Duck Family Treasure, is to break into new genres because that is still the thing that drives the most growth,” Fox Nation president Jason Klarman tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It is about differentiating the service, and super-serving the audience in ways that they aren’t being served by other streamers or other brands.”
Duck Family Treasure, a treasure-hunting show featuring castmembers of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, secured a green light after old episodes of the original reality show found a fresh audience on Fox Nation. The films have taken a similar approach, with the service finding that certain acquisitions (some Clint Eastwood classics, The Passion of the Christ, holiday films), resonating with users, who Klarman says are sticking around for 90 minutes or longer to watch them.
“I think first and foremost, we saw the success of film, and it fits into the whole idea of expanding into a lifestyle and entertainment service,” Klarman says, adding that by having direct control over the development process Fox can pick individual projects in genres that best fit with their strategy.
And that strategy, at least with films, is about reaching female viewers.
“These films are definitely targeting the female Fox News fan, and we know that this is the kind of title [The Shell Collector] that will absolutely attract her, and creating unique originals that she can’t get anywhere else is certainly part of the strategy to drive growth,” Klarman says.
While cable news is often associated with an older-skewing, more male-skewing audience, Fox Nation is attempting to create a broad tent of programming from female-skewing genres like real estate shows and true crime, as well as male-skewing fare like Cops and military-themed programming.
In the film space, Klarman says that projects with military and patriotism themes, true crime, religious themes and holiday movies are among the core genres being explored, with the goal of launching a new original film every few months.
“We know our audience goes and watches real estate shows on other platforms and other places, but now they can watch real estate shows on our platform,” Klarman says. “There are other places that have some of these things, but they don’t have all of the things our audience loves in one place.”
But it is also something of a test run. Movies, after all, can be expensive to produce (though Fox Nation isn’t spending Batgirl money on its originals), the question is whether they succeed in driving subscribers and viewing time.
“It is an experiment, and we are trying something new,” Klarman says. “We take these educated guesses based on the behavior we see on the platform and our deep knowledge of the audience.”
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