14 May The FAST and the Delirious: Why the Stampede to Free Ad-Supported Platforms Looks Like a Rerun of the Streaming Wars (Bloom) [Next TV]
May 14, 2023 | If nothing else, the recent NewFronts presentations established one thing: everyone’s going FAST … and fast. Media companies are multiplying their free ad-supported TV channels, services and original programming like rodents in rut, with lots more coming soon.
As more and more options pile up, though, will the sheer profusion undercut potential financial benefits for any specific provider? Or are we just setting up a repeat of the Streaming Wars (Ad-Supported Version)? If nothing else, success in FAST will require a new strategy playbook, including, gulp, exclusive and original programming and more marketing.
Being ad-supported is “a hard way to make a living,” said Ori Winitzwer, a partner of Integrated Media Co., whose investments include two soccer-focused media companies. “That said, it’s there, it’s possible. To me the sin of digital media, what we’re seeing now in terms of valuations, is there are a lot of companies that didn’t really stand for anything, they just chased scale. And they were encouraged to do that.”
Not everything’s awesome in the purely ad-supported world of less-than-premium content. YouTube, the king of user-generated content of every possible kind, continues to see a soft ad market, down 2.6% year over year in the first quarter. That’s not … great for companies now depending on FAST to patch over holes in their balance sheet caused by streaming. Yes, of course YouTube videos aren’t quite the same as a Hollywood-perfect episode of classic TV, but increasingly, audiences don’t care. So, consider it another possible warning sign amid the cavalry charge into FAST.