FAST streaming platformscontinue to embolden the assigned industry moniker abbreviation: It's a fast-growing business.
The word "free" that is associated with this platform certainly has a lot to do with it.
But it may be a simple diversionary marketing ploy. For example, what exactly is being offered for free?
Drilling down, free ad-supported platforms are pretty much what they say they are -- offering a lot of free content.
But many consumers can sit up and take notice of the offering of "free live TV channels."
Old-school consumer behavior comes to buying a traditional cable TV network bundle and being promised, say 100 or 200 channels for $80 to $100 a month. Long ago that may have sounded like a good deal.
Now, in the streaming world, FAST channels (Free Advertising Supported Television) have what seems like a better consumer financial equation -- thousands of free channels. For example, under the “Roku Channel” site, there are 300 free channels; Tubi TV, 250 freebies; Pluto tv, more than 250 free channels.
Overall, Nielsen's Gracenote Video Data says there are more than 1,050 of them available in the U.S. and over 1,400 individual FAST channels in its database.
Amazon Freevee recently added 12 free channels from NBCU; Warner Bros. Discovery and MGM have recently inked a deal sending 34 channels to Freevee.
How can any consumer say no to free TV -- even if they are also paying for around $10 to $15 a month each for Netflix, Disney+, Max, and/or say AMC+?
Looking closely, one needs to define exactly what a “channel” is.
In the free streaming world, “channels” can be more likely focused around “shows” - or micro-niche segments of shows. In the WBD deal for example, there are channels named “Cake Boss” and “Say Yes To The Dress”-- names of shows on cable TV network Food Network and TLC, respectively.
Still free? Maybe we really need a better word. The cost of home broadband can range from $30 to $50 or more. And consumers still have to pay up -- in terms of time -- when it comes to all that advertising and marketing interruption.
Critics might argue traditional cable TV networks -- at times may look like what these streamers have become.
After all, how does this differ from the 12 to 15 hours of nonstop back-to-back reruns airing of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” on USA Network on weekdays. What about the long non-stop primetime scheduling of video clips show “Ridiculousness” on MTV?
Among the other factors to consider, many of these free streaming services offer tons of older library TV and movie products -- or what might be defined as somewhat lower value to many consumers. Still, maybe there is some value here for hard press TV advertisers looking for disappearing reach.
Is everything new -- or just old again in this new TV/streaming world?
Nothing in this business ever really goes away.