TCM Charges for Fan Club

TCM Backlot banner

I missed this when it was announced as part of the TCM Film Festival back in April, but it’s another example of how to wring more revenue from your most devoted fans.

TCM Backlot is the first official fan club for the classic movie cable channel, and it will cost you $87 a year to become a “charter member” for “unprecedented access”. That currently consists of eligibility to

  • Vote on programming and help shape the network
  • Go on the air as a Guest Programmer
  • Attend special events and member-only gatherings
  • Meet TCM staff, talent, and special guests
  • Watch rare videos and first looks at original programming
  • Access an exclusive digital version of the Now Playing Guide
  • Preview TCM events, auctions, and upcoming guests
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the TCM studios
  • Enjoy regular contests, discounts, and giveaways
  • Be featured in the Now Playing Guide
  • Go inside the history of TCM and Hollywood

I suspect this is more useful to you if you live in California or maybe New York, although many of the benefits are simply online. (The club is US-only at this time.) I suspect there aren’t a lot of opportunities for gatherings and staff meet-ups in Wisconsin. The “members only” meetings I could find mention of take place on the TCM Cruise and at their film festival, so it’s for those already attending their special events.

TCM Backlot banner

TCM is the only thing I miss about dropping cable months ago, and I’ve been exploring ways to get it back (on such services as PlayStation Vue). But now, it feels like that might make me a second-class citizen unless I’m willing to pony up more.

That’s the struggle with selling access like this, or through Patreon. If you support an artist or a service, does it not count unless you pay extra? How do you make those who donate feel special without making those who don’t feel unwanted? Of course those who give you money monthly or yearly are more important to you, but you don’t want to make it that obvious.

And of course, this service is an automatic renewal unless you cancel, and there’s no trial period, and the fee is non-refundable, so you have to buy without seeing exactly what you’re getting. Various commentators have compared this to the D23 Disney Fan Club, which is apparently $80 a year, a similar fee, but they get a quarterly magazine.


  • Mary H. Jacko

    I guess living in the Detroit Area would not be beneficial to me as far as attending special events. Being a senior, I enjoy revisiting the movies of the past. TCM brings it all back. Being closer to Hollywood would, of course, be the best place to live. I will continue to be a fan of TCM.

  • Bobbly Paluga

    Shame on you, you did not mention that you get a TCM t-shirt when TCM gets your money. I’m willing to admit that the likely ages of the most faithful watchers, has been out of t-shirts and into golf and dress shirts for a decade or two, but it’s the thought that counts.
    What I have a problem with is the illusion that the club is for everyone, everywhere, with activities and special events from LA to Kalamazoo ending in Yonkers.
    That doesn’t seem to be the case unless member can fly into Southern California for each event. The ads present comments from members whose cities spread the Continental US. I doubt you get the broad range of hometowns each meeting.
    Despite the come-on “First Month Free” the free membership only kicks in when you have paid for a year ahead of time.

  • Chuck

    So far I’ve been a member for months and I’ve not received a single benefit except the t-shirt which I didn’t want and haven’t worn. They have contests but you need to be a theater PHD to win them. The don’t seem to let you know who wins most of them and never let you know you lose. If you get excited by seeing the interviews a bit before and after they air, you can do that on the site. One of the main claims for joining Backlots TCM claims is having others to share the classic movie experience. So far, after 3 months, I have yet to have a single conversation about a movie with anyone connected with Backlots. That’s why I joined. So far, money wasted.

  • Steve A Tate

    I live in the LA area what benefits are open to me other than the film festival

  • Bobby Paluga

    I believe you could get the same “benefits” by joining a Facebook group of TCM Classic Film lovers. People in the group could plan watching parties for those in the area, even putting together a trip to the TCM presentations in a movie theatre when the network does such things. As I wrote above, a t-shirt does nothing for me nor all the TCM labeled party supplies that they advertise as essential for your home viewing parties.
    I would love to read comments from Backlot members who are delighted to spend the $87/yr.

  • Chuck sherrod

    Hey Bobby,
    You make sense. I joined Backlots after it was given to me as a generous gift. I do love classics but certain genres are unwatchable to me. My date cut off was taken from Robert Osborne, 1970. So I guess I may be picky. But the reason I joined is to have a place or person to talk about classics. That is something I have yet to bee able to do after 7 months since the fee was paid. I’m not a film major so I won’t be wining contests. If you, good luck, competition is fierce. I am in central Denver and would be delighted to discuss this further.

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