This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by removing promotional content and inappropriate external links, and by adding encyclopedic content written from a neutral point of view. (October 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Wondrium
Company typePrivate
IndustryEducation
Founded1990; 34 years ago (1990)
Founders
  • Thomas M. Rollins
Headquarters,
United States
Products
  • The Great Courses
  • Wondrium
Owner
Websitethegreatcourses.com
wondrium.com
Some of the course materials produced by The Teaching Company.
Courses available through Wondrium
A former company logo.

The Teaching Company, doing business as Wondrium, is a media production company that produces educational, video and audio content in the form of courses, documentaries, and series under two content brands – Wondrium and The Great Courses.[1] The company distributes their content globally through a mix of Direct to Consumer models such as their streaming service Wondrium.com and TheGreatCourses.com, as well distribution through third party platforms like the Apple TV app, Audible, Amazon Prime, and Roku.[2]

Wondrium, founded by Tom Rollins in 1990, is currently owned by Brentwood Associates PE and is headquartered in Chantilly, Virginia.

History

In 1990, the company was founded by Thomas M. Rollins, former Chief Counsel of the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.[3][4] Rollins had been inspired by a 10-hour video-taped lecture series by Irving Younger that he watched to prepare for an exam while at Harvard Law School. He never forgot the series and wanted to share the experience with others.[5] He began recruiting professors and experts to record lectures, with the first courses covering psychology, political theory, and Shakespeare.[3][5]

By 2000, the company was well-established, with about $20 million (USD) in annual revenue.[3]

In October 2006, the company was acquired by Brentwood Associates, a private equity investment firm.[6] Following the acquisition, over 6,000 hours of content was digitized and the number of courses circulated rose from 20 million to 70 million.[5][6] Sales increased more than 35% the first year and then continued to grow at a double-digit pace.[6] The company added indirect distribution channels such as Netflix and Audible to their business model in 2013.[5]

The company introduced its online subscription service in 2015 called The Great Courses Plus, which gave consumers streaming access to the majority of The Great Courses content library through a web browser or iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, or Fire TV app.[5][7] A year later it introduced The Great Courses Signature Collection, a subset of Great Courses content offered as a subscription video service through third party platforms like Comcast, Apple TV, and Roku Channels.[8][2][9]

In 2016, the firm earned $150 million in annual revenue.[5]

In April 2021, the company announced the rebranding of its global streaming platform from the Great Courses Plus to Wondrium.[10][11] Along with the rebranding, the company announced 1,000 hours of new content sourced from licensing agreements with Kino Lorber, MagellanTV, and Craftsy.[11]

As of 2021, it included over 7,500 hours of content in the format of documentary, independent films, docuseries, short-form series, featurettes, courses, and tutorials.[11][12] There are over 1,200 titles with more than 26,000 lectures.[11]

Content

Wondrium produces video and audio content under its two brands: Wondrium and The Great Courses. Both brands focus on educational content with the promise of learning outcomes.[13] The Wondrium line of content, while also educational focused, focuses on learning experiences outside of the influence of traditional University curriculum and takes other content forms outside of courses such as documentaries, docuseries, and travelogues.[11] The Great Courses line of content typically features University level experts and professors presenting in-depth learning across multiple lectures. Courses are developed by the experts and the Wondrium production team.[13] Many of the programs' episodes are around thirty minutes.[13]

The production quality of the courses is "a cut above" free courses offered on YouTube, according to a report in The New York Times.[5] President and CEO of Wondrium Paul Suijk described the company as the "Netflix of learning."[5][14]

Content covers different subjects and categories such as science, math, economics, literature, language, history, religion, philosophy, fine arts, music, better living, health, wellness, how-to courses, personal enrichment, hobbies and leisure, and travel.[13][8][15][10][11] The company has partnerships with the Culinary Institute of America, the Smithsonian Institution, the Mayo Clinic, National Geographic, Penguin Random House, Scientific American, and others.[13][5][7] Self-described fans include Bill Gates and George Lucas, who delivered taped opening remarks to a Great Courses conference in 2015.[7][16]

Professors & experts

Most programs are delivered by an expert in the respective field.[17] The lectures often involve computer graphics and animations; some offer an optional PDF guidebook to serve as a custom-made textbook for the course.[17]

Audio-only titles available through Audible

While many Wondrium titles are available through Audible under The Great Courses brand, the company also produces a line of audio only titles exclusively for the Audible Originals brand. As of 2022 the company has produced over 75 of those titles including:[18][19]

Distribution

Wondrium distributes and monetizes their content through a number of ways, including direct to consumer models and through partnership with third party distributors.

Wondrium

Wondrium is the company's direct to consumer subscription streaming service that offers most of what Wondrium and The Great Courses produces as well as additional licensed non-fiction content from select partners.[12] This streaming service is distributed globally.[20] In 2021, it offered about 7,500 hours of content with three pricing options: a monthly plan, a quarterly plan, and an annual plan.[12][20] It is available on mobile, web, and platforms such as Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, and Android.[12][11] Wondrium offers both video streaming and audio streaming.[11]

The Great Courses Signature Collection

The Great Courses Signature Collection is the second streaming subscription service offered by the company that is distributed by third parties, including Comcast, Roku Channels, Amazon Channels, YouTube, and Apple TV and focuses specifically on The Great Courses line of content.[21][9][8] It contains a limited portion of the total count Wondrium and The Great Courses produces and releases relative to the Wondrium streaming service. This collection consists of more than 300 courses on subjects such as philosophy, ancient and modern history, photography, professional development, science and cooking.[8] As of 2024, courses are offered both through a subscription to The Great Courses library and for individual purchase.

Audible

In 2013, courses were made available through Audible under The Great Courses brand.[22][5] In 2019, the two companies announced their plan to create new audio-only nonfiction titles.[19] The first three titles were Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories: What We Should Believe - and Why, Medieval Myths and Mysteries, and No Calculator? No Problem!: Mastering Mental Math.[19]

Great Courses (TheGreatCourses.com)

These titles are available to purchase digitally, audio or video, or through DVD.[23] Customers can choose from over 1,200 titles in subject categories including the arts, science, literature, self-improvement, history, music, philosophy, theology, economics, mathematics, business, professional advancement, photography, and cooking.[23]

True History

True History is a Free Ad-Supported Television (FAST) channel.[24] It features over 650 hours of nonfiction programming from Wondrium, and is available through SelectTV (FreeCast) Roku, Xumo, and others.[25][26][24]

Wondrium Journeys

Wondrium Journeys are immersive vacations "designed to bring the company's vast collection of travel courses, videos, documentaries, and series to life."[27] The first vacation was a 9-day, 8-night trip inspired by the company's course Exploring the Mayan World. These vacations typically take place in Europe.[27]

Awards

Regional Emmy Award

Going to the Devil: The Impeachment of 1868 (Nominee, 2020)[13]

Buzzies Award

Webby Award

AIBs Award

References

  1. ^ Spangler, Todd (2021-04-27). "The Teaching Co. Wants Bigger Bite of Streaming With Rebranded 'Wondrium' Service". Variety. Retrieved 2022-12-23.
  2. ^ a b "The Great Courses Signature Collection Now Available Through Apple TV Channels". MacRumors. 4 June 2021. Archived from the original on 2023-12-22. Retrieved 2022-12-23.
  3. ^ a b c MacDonald, Heather (2011-06-21). "Great Courses, Great Profits". City Journal (New York).
  4. ^ Bales, Kate (1994-02-16). "Ivy League Courses for Price of a Video". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Max, Sarah (2016-05-27). "Born in the VCR Era, Great Courses Seeks to Evolve". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-03-27. ... top educators accessible to the masses, the Great Courses built a loyal audience of lifelong learners by making "the world's greatest professors" ...
  6. ^ a b c Max, Sarah (2013-07-29). "If Its Customers Love a Business, This Equity Firm Does, Too". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b c Martell, Nevin (2015-09-03). "Before YouTube and online classes, there were the Great Courses". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-02-09.
  8. ^ a b c d Snider, Mike. "Cutting the Cord: Hit the books with The Great Courses on Amazon Prime". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2023-02-16.
  9. ^ a b "YouTube TV - See All Channels". YouTube TV - Watch & DVR Live Sports, Shows & News. Retrieved 2023-02-16.
  10. ^ a b Duffy, Hill (2022-01-13). "Wondrium Review". PCMAG. Retrieved 2023-02-09.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Spangler, Todd (2021-04-27). "The Teaching Co. Wants Bigger Bite of Streaming With Rebranded 'Wondrium' Service". Variety. Retrieved 2023-02-09.
  12. ^ a b c d Hepburn, Tmera (2021-06-09). "Educational Streaming Platform The Great Courses Plus Rebrands as Wondrium". Cord Cutters News. Retrieved 2023-02-10.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Maher, John (2020-11-06). "The Great Courses' Great 30th Year". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
  14. ^ Suijk, Pail. "Paul Suijk, President & CEO at Wondrium". Linkedin. Retrieved February 8, 2024.
  15. ^ Johnson, Dave. "Get smarter without leaving home: Here's a free month of The Great Courses Plus". CNET. Retrieved 2023-02-24.
  16. ^ "The 4 Learning Hacks Bill Gates Swears By". Time. 2018-01-04. Retrieved 2023-02-24.
  17. ^ a b Johnson, Dave. "Get smarter without leaving home: Here's a free month of The Great Courses Plus". CNET. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  18. ^ "The top 10 audiobooks on Audible.com". WTOP News. 2022-08-09. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
  19. ^ a b c Rowe, Adam. "Audible And The Great Courses Pair For Original Audio Courses". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
  20. ^ a b Schneider, Michael (2022-04-04). "'Wondrium Insights' Launches This Summer with Sugar Ray Leonard, Diana Nyad, Mary Lambert and Others". Variety. Retrieved 2023-02-16.
  21. ^ "The Great Courses Signature Collection Now Available Through Apple TV Channels". MacRumors. 4 June 2021. Retrieved 2023-02-16.
  22. ^ "Audible: The Great Courses".
  23. ^ a b Spangler, Todd (2021-04-27). "The Teaching Co. Wants Bigger Bite of Streaming With Rebranded 'Wondrium' Service". Variety. Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  24. ^ a b GetNews. "FreeCast's SelectTV Adds True History from Wondrium". Digital Journal. Retrieved 2023-03-28.
  25. ^ True History Channel, retrieved 2023-03-28
  26. ^ Barnes, Jess (2021-11-16). "The Roku Channel Adds 15 New Channels to Its Free Lineup". Cord Cutters News. Retrieved 2023-03-28.
  27. ^ a b "ATA Partners with Wondrium to launch Wondrium Journeys". Academic Travel Abroad. 2021-09-02. Retrieved 2023-04-07.
  28. ^ a b c "Congress '21 unveils nominees for Buzzies Awards". Retrieved 2023-03-29.
  29. ^ a b "The AIBs | Celebrating the world's best factual content". theaibs.tv. Retrieved 2023-04-06.

Bibliography