• Inside the Stream Podcast: Are FASTs a Road to Gold or a Road to “SLOW?”

    On this week’s podcast, Colin Dixon and I boldly  introduce to the industry a new acronym (technically it’s a “macronym” or “nested acronym”).

    We’re all aware that free ad-supported TV (“FAST) services are currently all the rage and that many are predicting it will become a multibillion dollar streaming segment in the years ahead.  

    Content providers, TV OEMs and TV networks are seizing the opportunity by launching new FAST services to capitalize on two key trends - advertisers’ insatiable demand for premium CTV ad inventory and viewers’ SVOD fatigue especially as economic uncertainty surges.

    All of this makes FASTs a “road to gold” in the short-term.

    But, in the longer-term, an unintended consequence of FASTs’ growth may be to precipitate accelerated churn among SVOD providers. Hence the new macronym: SVOD Losses On the Way (“SLOW”).

    There are still only 24 hours in the day, and viewers constantly make choices about what to watch, what services get displaced and what they’re willing to pay for. If viewers reapportion their viewing time to strong FAST services that are flooding the market, then they’re being “trained” to consume free premium video via FASTs. Further, their expectations for ever-better shows to be accessible without payment also escalates.

    SLOW is a concept I’ve been contemplating for some time, especially as I read one FAST-boosting report or article after another, as well as observing the slowing growth SVODs are already experiencing.

    But this week’s announcements of WBD moving “Westworld” plus a trove of other programming to Tubi and to The Roku Channel FAST services really crystallized things for me. After all, “Westworld” is a show that garnered 54 Emmy nominations and 9 wins in its four-year run. Its popularity has faded recently and HBO cancelled it, but it still boasted a familiar, name-brand cast. For HBO, it was no “Game of Thrones” or “The Sopranos,” but it was respectable. Now all 36 episodes will be available completely for free on Tubi and The Roku Channel.

    To be clear - and as I say in the podcast - I remain a fan of FASTs. I’m only raising the caution flag that the decision-making around which FASTs to launch and what premium content will be included must be made with a lot of strategic awareness. Companies condition their customers what to expect; once this conditioning is set it is incredibly difficult to recondition them.

    Note: There will be a dedicated session on whether FASTs are a road to gold or a road to “SLOW” at VideoNuze’s CTV Advertising PREVIEW virtual event on Feb. 28th afternoon. Sign-up is complimentary. Initial speakers being announced next week.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (38 minutes, 2 seconds)

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