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YouTube video network Fullscreen to launch subscription service next month

Fullscreen, one of YouTube's biggest video networks, will finally unveil its subscription-based service next month.

The ad-free video streaming service, which has been in the works for some time, will launch April 26 and will be available through Fullscreen’s website and via iPhone, iPad, select Android Phones and Chromecast for $4.99 a month.

The move to launch a subscription video service comes at a time when creators, particularly multichannel networks like Fullscreen, are looking for ways to assume greater control of content and find new revenue streams.  Multichannel networks are not affiliated with or endorsed by YouTube or Google but help digital stars navigate the new online space.

“It’s basically like if you were to start MTV today, how would you do it?” Fullscreen Chief Executive George Strompolos said. “You probably wouldn’t beg to get a cable channel. You would probably build something in the so-called over-the-top space.”

Fullscreen, which has helped boost the popularity of many YouTube stars, is targeting the 13- to 30-year-old audience with its subscription video offshoot. The Culver City company has stated before that the service would aim to bridge the gap between social media and television for young viewers who not only want premium content, but also want to engage with it.

“We want to carry some of the things TV has been so great for -- great programming and entertainment that moves people,” Strompolos said. “But what’s been very clear to us in building Fullscreen is the audience wants to feel an opportunity for interaction and a way to comment on things ... or respond to things and to be creative themselves. We think, so far, in this subscription video space, that’s been largely missing.”

The library for Fullscreen's subscription video service will consist of more than 800 hours of content composed of full-length films and original short-form series, as well as scripted and unscripted acquisitions. 

Some of the original lineup comes from YouTube personalities, such as “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl,” a comedic Sid and Marty Krofft reboot starring Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart, and “Jack & Dean of All Trades,” a workplace comedy starring and created by Jack Howard and Dean Dobbs.  Acquired content includes favorite TV series like “Dawson’s Creek” and “Daria,” as well as films “Cruel Intentions” and “Can’t Hardly Wait.”

Strompolos said subscribers will have opportunity to be creative inside the platform, whether it be by leaving comments or creating playlists or making use of the GIF creator integrated into the system.

Much thought was given to the price point, Strompolos said.

“We knew out of the gate that we’re targeting a young audience who have less disposable income and, to be frank, we have less breadth as a Hulu or a Netflix," he said. "So we knew we had to be less than $10 and we knew we had to find a business model that would work at such a price point."

Founded in 2011, Fullscreen has more than 70,000 creators with 600 million subscribers who help generate more than 5 billion video views across Fullscreen's global network each month. The talent roster includes the Fine Bros., O2L and Jack and Jack. Otter Media, AT&T Inc. and the Chernin Group's joint venture, acquired a majority stake in the company in 2014.

Fullscreen said AT&T has signed on as the premier launch partner for the new service.  That means AT&T will collaborate with Fullscreen to market and promote the service to AT&T’s mobile and broadband customers.  The companies will also partner to co-produce content that will be available on the service.

Strompolos downplayed whether Fullscreen’s new service puts it in direct competition with YouTube, which launched its own subscription-based product, YouTube RED.

“At the highest level, everybody is competing for eyeballs and consumer dollars,” Strompolos said. “YouTube is one of our biggest and best partners.... They have YouTube Red, which is primarily a music offering and an ad-free YouTube offering,  with some original content sprinkled in here and there. What we’re doing is very much an original content offering."

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