CuriosityStream is a niche video service for people who miss the old Discovery Channel, presenting brainy science documentaries instead of flashy reality shows. It turns out there’s less of a market for this kind of programming than CuriosityStream expected, at least at the prices it was charging. The service is now slashing subscription prices from $6 per month to $3 per month for HD video, and from $12 per month to $10 per month for 4K. It’s also offering 18 ad-supported free shows on its website, with Sprint as the initial sponsor.
John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Channel who launched CuriosityStream in 2015, originally thought the service would reach at least 5 million subscribers within two to five years. Instead, it only has 1 million subscribers after three years, and roughly three-quarters of them come from third-party services (think Amazon Channels or cable companies) that take a cut of the service’s subscription revenues, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Hendricks now believes that most people will only spend about $30 per month on streaming video services, which doesn’t leave much room for niche offerings like CuriosityStream after budgeting for premium services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. With the new pricing, CuriosityStream hopes to increase subscribers by 50% to 100% this year, while getting more of them to pay for the service directly. Hendricks is hoping for 40 million subscribers worldwide by 2023.