Free TV Services Pile Up In Overloaded Media World

Comcast’s Xfinity and Flex, its subscription pay TV services, joins the list of media companies offering more free networks, apps and platforms.

Ask yourself how much free can we stand — in an already glutted market?

Fox Corp., Comcast’s NBCU, Vizio (through its smart TV interface), Verizon, AT&T and others have offering more free networks recently, due to more at-home workers/students -- news, scripted entertainment and non-scripted content-based networks.

All this intends to drive goodwill and promotional value, as well as obvious monthly entertainment cost savings for a growing percentage of shaken U.S. consumers furloughed or laid off.

One question is where all these freebies will land in a post- or lessor- COVID-19 world, say six months or a year from now. What happens to monthly traditional pay TV/streaming TV costs in the interim?



Will we see price declines? We are a month into all of this -- and there doesn’t seem much in the cards to lowering price. Instead, we get “freebies” -- mostly smaller and mid-size TV app/platforms -- for a period of time. (That said, AT&T is offering HBO free for a year for new subscribers of its DirecTV and AT&T TV platforms.)

Here is a list of some new Comcast free services: AFRO, Aspire TV, Revolt TV One, CBeebies, Cinelatino, Cine Sony, Filipino On Demand, Hi-YAH!, and TV5Monde.

The longer view has analysts believing we won’t go back to big-time consumer entertainment spending, with much more caution at home (streaming/pay TV costs), and outside the home (movie theaters, musical and sporting events).

In large part, much of this freebie world has been driven by real and expected TV usage demand over the last month, which has been 25% to 30% higher in many cases versus the pre-COVID-19 environment.

But where is the real supply-and-demand equation?

For a long time, we have been told about an explosion of media choices, traditional pay and digital, as well as many free on-demand and streaming platforms. There is just too much media.

For example, TV consumers have complained, for the last several years, they can’t get through the growing premium TV scripted shows on traditional TV networks, on-demand and streaming TV platforms -- now around 500 in total.

And now we add more free content choices -- big and small, premium and otherwise.

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