Fullscreen Lays Off 25, Plans Shutdown of Streaming Service

Courtesy of Fullscreen
Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos

The service, also called Fullscreen, will stream its last show on Friday and all other shows will be sold or shelved.

Digital media firm Fullscreen is laying off around 25 employees as it prepares to shut down its year-and-a-half old subscription streaming service. 

The service, also called Fullscreen, will cease operations during the first quarter of 2018, CEO George Strompolos announced to staff on Monday afternoon. 

"We came to the conclusion that funding SVOD — a longer-term investment — was limiting our ability to invest in our Creator, Brand and Rooster Teeth divisions that have more established scale and immediate impact," the exec said in a statement.

Fullscreen launched the $5-per-month offering, designed to be a Netflix for teens, in spring 2016. Its current lineup of originals include Jay Versace Is Stuck in the 90s, Prank Me and Magic Funhouse! It also streams a slate of weekly talk shows and video podcasts, including Shane and Friends and Not Too Deep With Grace Helbig. In addition, it offers a library of classic film and TV shows including Men in Black, She's All That and Parks and Recreation

At the time of the service's launch, Fullscreen, which is owned by a joint venture of The Chernin Group and AT&T called Otter Media, had planned to market it to the telecom giant's customer base. But competing in a streaming landscape dominated by Netflix, which has 109 million global subscribers and a $6 billion content budget, isn't easy. Fullscreen has never disclosed how many subscribers it has to its service.

"Going forward, we will double-down on our mission to empower creators and bring brands closer to fans," continued Strompolos. "The award-winning product experience and technology we've developed over the past two years will be valuable as we build new brands and content offerings in the future. We will continue to identify and invest in talented creators and make ambitious bets to push the space forward. It's in our DNA."

This is the second round of layoffs at Fullscreen in the last three months. In September, the Playa Vista-based company laid off about 3 percent of its staff in what it characterized at the time as a focus on original programming for its streaming service. The layoffs largely affected operational roles for the Fullscreen service, including subscription acquisition, marketing and content operations. 

The six-year-old company was founded as a multichannel network for the new crop of talent that was becoming famous on YouTube. While Fullscreen is one of the few digital media companies still in the MCN business, it has since expand its offerings to include a touring group, talent management team and social agency. 

Strompolos' full statement is below.

Team: 

When we set out to launch our own SVOD service, we knew it would be a huge challenge. We wanted to provide a new platform for the breakthrough creators, personalities and storytellers of social entertainment — and the fans who love them.
 
A lot went right. Our talented team built and launched a best-in-class OTT product experience from scratch. We created bold, first-of-its-kind original programming that resonated with young fans. Millions downloaded our app and hundreds of thousands became paying subscribers. 
 
Despite our momentum, we’ve made the difficult decision to shut down the Fullscreen SVOD service in Q1 2018. We came to the conclusion that funding SVOD — a longer-term investment — was limiting our ability to invest in our Creator, Brand and Rooster Teeth divisions that have more established scale and immediate impact. I shared this news in person with the core SVOD team earlier today.
 
Many smart, creative people gave so much in pursuit of this ambitious project, from our staff to our talent and partners. In addition, many young fans supported us by subscribing with their own hard-earned money. We thank you all for giving us a chance.
 
Going forward, we will double-down on our mission to empower creators and bring brands closer to fans. The award-winning product experience and technology we’ve developed over the past two years will be valuable as we build new brands and content offerings in the future. We will continue to identify and invest in talented creators and make ambitious bets to push the space forward. It’s in our DNA. I will share more details about our evolving strategy at the December all-hands meeting.
 
Onward,
George

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