The same was the case with our sister service W4Free in the UK. But as the streaming wars started heating up, so too did our distribution strategy. How do we cut through the noise and make our offerings known to users looking for great free content? How do we make sure we’re everywhere viewers what to watch?
On Demand offerings were really taking off last year as the pandemic saw more people than ever looking to streaming services to take their minds off being locked down at home. But that uptick also inspired the acceleration of a business that was just getting off the ground before Covid: FAST, or free ad-supported TV. These platforms, unlike pure AVOD, mimic the experience of a traditional cable bundle and the lean-back experience of linear TV in that they feature channels of content streaming directly through your TV with ads.
It seems like overnight, platforms like Samsung TV Plus, Vizio and LG Channels had hundreds of channels and those channels were producing impressive ad revenue. Any self-respecting fledging streaming service had better take note. Missing out on the opportunity to be in front of Smart TV owners in many of the biggest markets would be foolish.
But choosing to be on these FAST platforms does come with some challenges and considerations. Here are just three questions I’ve explored while deliberating my own businesses growth strategy:
FAST is growing; there’s no denying that. Smart TV manufacturers are rolling out ever more sophisticated TVs that include a wide range of content services. Meanwhile, connected TV devices like fire sticks will still be viable as many consumers have expensive TVs that are a few years old but not really for the recycling center. But with 223 million smart TVs projected to sell this year, it’s probable that they will only become a more dominant force in the global content distribution ecosystem in the next three to five years. Therefore, FAST will only before a more critical part of any streaming service’s distribution strategy, but it will be incumbent upon individual services like ours to program, market and use all tools at our disposal to make the most of these platforms to reach and keep viewers engaged
Philipp Rotermund is CEO of Video Solutions AG, one of Europe’s leading AVOD providers with services in Germany, UK, Austria and Switzerland.
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