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Curiosity Stream begins using AI tools for marketing, customer feedback

Company reported earning $56.9 million last year, down from $78 million in 2022.

Company reported earning $56.9 million last year, down from $78 million in 2022.

(Logo courtesy CuriosityStream, Graphic by The Desk)

Fact-based streaming platform Curiosity Stream narrowed its operational loss to $4.7 million in 2023 and announced a future dividend program as it eyes positive free cash flow this year.

On Wednesday, Curiosity Stream said the company generated $56.9 million in revenue last year from the sale of its documentary-heaving streaming service and advertisements run against some linear content channels. The figure was about 27 percent lower compared to the $78 million earned in 2022.

For the quarter (Q4), Curiosity Stream took in $14.8 million in revenue, slightly higher than the $14.5 million earned during Q4 2022.

The company’s operating loss stood at $48.9 million for the year, down from $50.9 million in 2022, and $4.7 million during Q4 2023, a decrease of 67 percent on a year-over basis. The loss was attributed to lower expenses during the year, which clocked in at $16.2 million, down from $39.5 million in 2022.

“Our fourth quarter revenue results met our guidance range while adjusted free cash flow exceeded our guidance range, and we delivered sequential revenue growth in our Direct Business,” Clint Stinchcomb, the President and CEO of Curiosity Stream, said in a statement. “We continued to decrease our cost base, as we achieved our fifth straight quarter of sequential adjusted free cash flow improvement. Looking forward, we will be guiding to positive adjusted free cash flow for the first quarter of 2024, and we believe the initiation of the dividend program, which will be paid from excess cash, underscores our positive outlook for cash flow in 2024.”

The company’s bottom line was boosted by a number of strategic decisions, including the renewal of distribution agreements with cable, satellite and some streaming platforms stateside and abroad, along with various price adjustments and programming package realignments that took place through the year.

When sold directly to consumers, Curiosity Stream costs $5 per month or $40 per year for access to hundreds of documentaries and fact-based titles. A “Smart” bundle that consists of Curiosity Stream, TasteMade, Topic and others costs $10 per month or $70 per year. Despite making a financial investment in independent platform Nebula in 2021, Curiosity Stream stopped including that service in its bundle late last year.

Curiosity Stream doesn’t disclose the precise number of customers who subscribe to its services, or how many hours its programming is watched on linear channels that are distributed through streaming platforms like Local Now, FreeCast and LG Channels.

Last year, the channel gained wider distribution when it landed on The Roku Channel, Tubi and Comcast and Charter’s Xumo Play, bringing it in front of millions more users of those platforms. And an agreement with Apple put Curiosity Stream’s application on Apple TV in more than two dozen countries, including in parts of the European Union. To date, Curiosity Stream distributes its on-demand service and linear content channels in 175 countries.

“We have a large, evergreen, globally appealing library of content, now over 17,000 titles, that we are putting to work across new platforms that we believe will both increase and enhance the reliability, durability, and predictability of our revenues going forward,” Stinchcomb affirmed.

The company is also reducing operating expenses by using more machine learning tools to automate certain features, particularly in the area of marketing. Stinchcomb said some artificial intelligence solutions have powered Curiosity Stream’s e-mail marketing platforms, while others have been used to “[speed up] sequencing in the editing process, which enables us to meet a broad range of different third-party platform requirements around the world — and, in doing so, put more content to work.”

“Our engineering team is testing and using AI to enhance software development practices such as automated code suggestions, reviews, data analysis, and database query assistance,” Stinchcomb affirmed. “Additionally, we’re experimenting with AI to enhance categorization of content, analysis of scripts, and factual analysis.”

More AI tools are being launched to help with customer support, including solutions that allow Curiosity Stream to evaluate feedback from streamers.

“While premium program synthetic dubbing is not quite ready for prime time, we believe it’s within our sights to create a meaningful impact on the speed and volume of content we can publish across the globe in a growing number of languages,” he said.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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