The Teaching Co. Wants Bigger Bite of Streaming With Rebranded ‘Wondrium’ Service

The Teaching Co. — founded in 1990, well before Netflix or YouTube were a twinkle in anyone’s eye — has sold audio and video learning classes for decades.

Now, as media companies of all sizes rush to embrace streaming, The Teaching Co. is following suit, hoping to capture a bigger audience for its lineup of content aimed at “lifelong learners.” Early this summer, the Chantilly, Va.-based company plans to debut Wondrium — a rebranded and expanded version of its subscription-streaming platform, The Great Courses Plus.

For the launch of Wondrium, the company has inked new licensing agreements with Kino Lorber, MagellanTV and Craftsy for documentary and independent films, docuseries and other content. Those partners will provide an additional 1,000 hours of instructional and nonfiction content for the ad-free, subscription VOD service.

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“We’ve been around for 30 years creating experiences to give our customers these ‘aha’ moments,” said Paul Suijk, president and CEO of The Teaching Co. “With Wondrium, we want to create a format that’s more appealing to a wider audience.”

Sujik, who identified MasterClass and John Hendricks’ CuriosityStream as competitors, said Wondrium will include a total of about 7,500 hours of content, up from 6,500 for Great Courses Plus currently.

Wondrium will be available for the same three pricing options as the predecessor service: a monthly plan at $20/month, a quarterly plan at $15/month (billed $45 every three months), and an annual plan at $12.50/month ($150/year). The service will available to stream on mobile, web and connected-TV platforms, including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS and Android.

The titles included in The Great Courses Plus will remain available to Wondrium members, along with content from existing partners A&E, Scientific American, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and the Culinary Institute of America. In addition to the SVOD service, Great Courses titles are available to purchase digitally a la carte. The full library spans over 1,200 titles with more than 26,000 lectures in subject categories including the arts, science, literature, self-improvement, history, music, philosophy, theology, economics, mathematics, business, professional advancement, photography and cooking.

The company first launched The Great Courses Plus streaming service in 2015, but it still stocks and sells a catalog of DVDs. “Not everybody wants to learn through online courses,” said Sujik. The most popular titles are “The History and Archeology of the Bible” and “Understanding the Fundamentals of Music,” he said — and a newer addition, “The Complete Guide to Baking Bread,” has become a best-selling title.

Brentwood Associates, an L.A.-based private equity firm, has owned The Teaching Co. since 2006. The company has about 300 employees.

Suijk was named president and CEO of The Teaching Co. in May 2013. He joined the company
in September 2007 as CFO. A native of the Netherlands, he previously held executive positions at companies including Cadmus Communications, Danka Business Systems, James River Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell.

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The Teaching Co. Wants Bigger Bite of Streaming With Rebranded ‘Wondrium’ Service