Streaming services -- FAST platforms -- look like regular TV. There is a discovery schedule grid of networks and programs to choose from. And the price is right.
Since it's free, consumers might view it as an entertainment base -- something that can complement the bigger, high-profile streamers -- Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon -- where one needs to spend anywhere from $6 to $15 a month.
Some believe FAST services can act like a promotional channel for viewers, enticing them to access premium ad-free or other services. In particular, this may benefit Viacom with Pluto, or Fox with Tubi, for example.
At the same time, others like NBCUniversal are melding parts of FAST with subscriptions on a single platform -- Peacock TV. The initial premise for Peacock was as a “free” ad-supported platform -- at least its initial option. Get those consumers in, and maybe then they will want to spend more.
Indeed, when it launched, the biggest on-air message for Peacock was that it was “free.” Before that, former NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke touted the forthcoming Peacock as essentially “broadcasting.”
Now, a year and half into its operation, we don’t see much messaging that refers to this. Why? Because as with Netflix, Hulu, or CBS, ABC, Fox, HGTV or any other purveyor of TV, consumers are asking the next question: What shows do you have?
Peacock has been moving to that next phase. A recent TV promotion message of original TV shows -- “Dr. Death,” “One of Us Is Lying” and “We Are Ladyparts” -- has been airing.
Will those more basic FAST platforms -- which offer a combination of linear TV networks and streaming apps -- also need to do the same? Some of these services have already announced efforts with “originals” -- Tubi and Pluto have put their toes in the water.
Likewise, Roku, the set-top streaming box and smart TV interface, has its free, ad-supported Roku Channel doing the same thing -- looking to pump up originals.
Cheap TV is good — as long as you pay that monthly broadband fee. But once these services hit some critical mass in the U.S., what really comes next, messaging-wise?