In November, a brand new streaming platform was launched called Topic. With the streaming market growing aggressively, Topic is a platform that will take many people by surprise. Of course, the likes of Disney+ and Apple TV+ muscled their way in recently, but Topic offers an alternative of niche and meaningful content. We had the wonderful opportunity to interview Topic’s General Manager Ryan Chanatry. He also has a surprise for our wonderful readers too!
Hello Ryan, thank you for offering to interview with us! So tell us about Topic?
Ryan: You’re welcome! Topic is a new streaming service that launched in the US and Canada on November 21st. We’re a part of First Look Media’s entertainment division, which also includes Topic Studios. We are a curated selection of drama, comedy, discussion, narrative, documentary, and doc-shorts. We have programming from around the globe, including France, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Belgium, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and more.
With streaming platforms becoming more popular, what is your vision for this streaming platform and where do you feel it fits in the market?
Ryan: Most of the the non-major streaming services program to a particular genre niche (horror, British, etc), but our vision is that Topic will appeal to a frame of mind or specific sensibility instead. Our programming sits at the intersection of entertaining, provocative, meaningful, elevated, and smart, and we see ourselves as a compliment to the major streaming players and definitely not in direct competition. We feel that there is room in consumers’ lives for a service they want to actively associate themselves with, that reflects their values, and says something specific to them with its programming.
What would you say your role is at Topic?
Ryan: My role as General Manager is to oversee the strategy across all of our functions to ensure we are collectively growing Topic and acquiring and retaining subscribers. Additionally, I look to enact the right systems and processes that ensure we develop, acquire, and/or produce the highest-quality programming to bring to our audiences and not let anything get in the way of our encouraging the expression of our creators and programming executives.
Where do you think the streaming market is heading? Do you think it will eventually take over network TV?
Ryan: 2020 will be a very interesting time as HBO Max and Peacock launch and all the major services settle into their respective rhythms. In time, it seems likely that all “TV” will be delivered over the internet as traditional cable packages and delivery will be replaced by virtual bundles that may include specific feeds of programming (similar to how Viacom has integrated many of their brands/titles into Pluto) and streaming services as add-on “channels”. However, the current VMPVD approach doesn’t appear to be working for the operators and instead, it seems like it will be a longer transition to move consumers to access their cable bundles via smart devices (eg. Spectrum’s Roku app) or bundle their other services into their internet access (eg. Comcast’s Xfinity X1 box).
We are all collectively such voracious consumers of entertainment and luckily for us, the quality across all genres and countries has risen so dramatically. While the streaming services are almost directly responsible for this, at Topic, we are also able to benefit and as such, bring so many excellent series and films to our audience.
What can we expect from Topic in 2020?
Ryan: We have many exciting projects in the works for 2020. We’ve announced a few already, including the premiere of French drama Vernon Subtext in North America, episodes of our discussion shows Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, What’s Your Ailment?! with Maria Bamford, and Soul City, a three-part Topic Original set in New Orleans. In addition to many more drama and comedy series premieres, we’ll be releasing narrative and documentary films throughout the year, highlighting engaging and critically acclaimed films from around the world, as well as lesser known titles that might not have had a previous presence on streaming services.
At Ready Steady Cut we primarily provide coverage on the streaming market, what would you recommend we dive into first on Topic?
Ryan: It’s so hard to pick! I’d start with The Miracle if you’re in the mood for a drama, Stockholm for comedy, and Columbus for film. The Miracle is an incredibly compelling religious mystery from Italian company Wildside, who produced The Young Pope and My Brilliant Friend. It’s set amidst the discovery in Rome of a statue of Mary that is crying blood. Stockholm is a hilarious look at what happens when a group of friends comes together to ensure their recently deceased friend can win the Nobel Prize in Economics. Columbus is director Kogonada’s debut film, which stars John Cho. Filmed and set in Columbus, IN, it’s an amazing interweaving of family, architecture, and love.
Thank you very much for talking to us – feel free to plug in anything further related Topic and we cannot wait to keep an eye on content in the future!
Ryan: Thank you! We hope that your readers are interested in trying Topic out, and we’re excited to offer them a two month free trial by using the promo code “readysteadytopic2020” on a monthly subscription. We’re available on iOS, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android, and soon Amazon Prime Channels. A monthly subscription starts at $5.99 and you can save with a yearly for only $59.99.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.