FAST But...Home Entertainment - the Freer the Better

FAST But...Home Entertainment - the Freer the Better

Source – 20th Century Fox

 "I have to warn you, I've heard relationships based on intense experiences never work." – Jack, "Speed," 20th Century Fox, 1994

A while back, Ampere Analytics made a "startling" announcement that new scripted shows dropped dramatically this year due – according to them – to the Hollywood strikes and continued shrinking of Peak TV.

A whopping 24 percent drop over the previous year – 481 vs. 633.

Okay, being very self–centered, that's more than we're going to be able to watch in one year, even if we liked every one that was released, which is highly unlikely.

To economically hang onto their dwindling audiences, appointment TV increasingly fills their weekly schedules with games, contests, DIY, reality and other unscripted projects that are. less expensive to produce. And there's a certain Millennial + group of households who like that stuff.

As for scripted projects, they keep those shows that have worked in the past ... stick with what works.

Streamers greenlighted most of the scripted projects because they have the in–depth subscriber data that gives them an edge on what's going to work and what's not as well as what will keep us connected to them but at a lower monthly fee. It's a continuing process.



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 Shifting Tide – Streaming services have finally discovered that great content and cost go hand in hand. Given an option of paying a higher price for no ads or lower price with a few (very few) ads, people want more content with a reasonable discount. 


We won't say they're disconnected from the "real" world, but it's only been in recent years that streaming services discovered that content and cost go hand in hand.

For us, that meant Prime – wife does like that delivery service, Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV – daughter will not leave her iPhone and frankly, even with a smaller library the content is really good.

However, we did pop into and out of all of the services – including our faves – for a killer film or dynamite series.

Watch it ... done ... gone.

To hang onto all of us, they "unveiled" ad–supported tiers to their options, proving it's a bad position to never say never. Netflix and Disney joined the crowd.


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 Yeah, Maybe – Ask folks if they like ads they'll say no but ask them if a few ads are okay as long as the content meets their entertainment desires are met and well, let's just say they like options.


The folks who absolutely hate ads could watch their stuff without a break to go to the bathroom or kitchen. Okay, so the AVOD service offerings are only kinda/sorta free.

You pay them a "fraction of their content's real value and then they ask marketers to make up the difference for the privilege of appearing somewhere in "your" movie/show.

Who woulda guessed that people would like to save a little money. Markets wanted to reach those folks to talk them into spending those savings with them.

Ordinary folks moved toward the free ad–supported streaming offerings because they still had the freedom of choosing the on–demand content they wanted.

All of the big boy streamers realized that the more great, new content they put into their libraries, the more people with screens they could attract and the more ad dollars they could attract.

The key to it all kept accumulating into their viewer data files.

They have data science down to a fine art.

As long as a film/show stays in the top five projects viewed any given night, it stayed in the library for more of us to discover/enjoy.

But when the numbers showed a slight sign of beginning to trend downward ... BAM!!! gone and a new carefully curated film/show entered the scene.

You say you just discovered/got interested? Tough dude/dudette, this is a business ... and a big business.


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 Steady Climb – It has taken marketing and advertising some time to understand the important difference between total gross audience and an interested audience; but as the understanding of the importance of accurate analytics in the tailored marketing program grows, it is becoming obvious that greater connection with the potential customer is achieved with ad–supported streaming.


Yeah, you read it right, ad–supported revenues will account for almost $120B this year.

Most of that ad investment will come from the traditional day/time TV services.

That's real ad growth, not numbers that are inflated here in the US by the political chaos advertising or the Paris Olympics bump.

In other words, it's real growth.

Fortunately, local TV will be given a lifeline with a projected increase in ad investment of 28 percent compared to last year, thanks to an infusion of about $5.7B from political ads.

But even those channels/stations are seeking out and connecting with digital opportunities.

Of course, if ad–subsidized channels are a good thing, why not give folks what they really want ... free home/device viewing?

Three of the earliest totally free, ad–supported streaming services were started by media/ad entrepreneurs and then snapped up by content development/delivery giants––Pluto (Paramount), Tubi (Fox) and FreeVee (Amazon Prime).

It's no surprise that people would migrate to entertainment options that offered freer free viewing options. And they've grown rapidly, not only with first run content but also with a mind–boggling number of channels.


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 Stocking Up – FAST services began offering a big selection of older content but have since been increasing their investment in first–run shows/films as well as an expanded set of channels to appeal to the broader viewing audience as well as niche but desirable audiences. They have also expanded the localization of content to audiences around the globe.


Yes, they were (and still are) known for the place to go to catch those movies and shows you didn't bother to watch when you were growing up but now sound interesting.

There's a constant rotation (in/out) of projects in any genre that strikes your fancy so, it's no wonder you pop in just to check what's "new" and interesting.

As they mature, they are also attracting first–run content.

But just as important, there are channels with great content for specific segments of the community – Black, Japanese, Chinese, you name it.

If there's a large enough potential audience interested in the shows/films, there's a channel.

The FAST services are focused on expanding their content libraries to cater to the wider – and more focused – audience.

At the same time, niche content/channels are finding fantastic opportunities in FAST services with content that appeals to a specialized but loyal market in the US and around the world.


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 Global/Local – Free ad–supported streaming has grown rapidly around the globe with a widening array of shows/films. A lot of that has been made possible by organizations using AI services to localize content with sub/dub audio. 


And, according to Allan McLennan, CEO 2G Digital Post, many of them are following Pluto's lead and localizing the shows/films for viewers in other countries.

"Whether it's subtitles or dubbed content, people in other countries want to enjoy content from not only their own country but from around the globe," he noted, "And today's AI–enabled localization services make it fast, easy and economic to give them films/shows from anywhere/everywhere in their native tongue."


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 Rapid Growth – While FAST services have been well received in the Americas, people in other regions of the world have found it the go–to source for their personal/home entertainment.


"Put together the broadest range of genre and films/shows possible, deliver it in the area's native tongue and make all of that content free – even with ads – and it's easy to see why the FAST services aids are growing so rapidly around the globe," McLennan.

He emphasized that there are two areas where they are focusing a lot of attention behind the scenes–AI–aided discoverability and accountability.


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 Go–To Affair – We wouldn't exactly say we love FAST streaming video services but they do quickly become the places we turn when we want to see "something" and want a wide array of options to choose from any given evening.


New AI tools are being developed by every FAST service (actually, all streaming services) and that is to improve the service's ability to make it faster and easier for viewers to find the content they want to watch with a minimum of frustration.

"Every streaming service is spending a lot of time and effort to make it less frustrating for a viewer to find the show/movie they want to watch, even when they aren't certain what they want to watch," McLennan stated.

"AI tools using the viewer's historical data as well as information obtained from people with similar viewing habits helps them offer shows/movies they will likely be interested in.

"I think this kind of application of the technology is exactly what the content delivery organizations want to refine to make their service the â??go to' option when people decide to relax/escape from the busy/chaotic world around them," he added.


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 Ad Growth – While the Americas may have the largest share of FAST service ad revenues, other regions of the globe are growing rapidly as people turn to the most economic entertainment and advertisers ... follow.


The second implementation of AI for the FAST streamers is accountability and ensuring they capture all of the reporting information they need for advertisers.

In other words, they need to accurately monetize their service's audience.

Showing value to both the viewer and the advertiser is what will make FAST the home/personal entertainment option of choice in the years ahead.

The vast amounts of English–based content that can be easily localized –sub and/or dub– for audiences in APAC (Asia Pacific), LatAm (Latin America) and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) can increase the demand for free viewing services and will also mean an increase in availability of content from those countries to the Americas.

I't's win, win, win for global audiences, content creators and global/regional marketers.

That should nail it for the entertainment and advertising industries, right?

Hell No!

O.K., we sorta apologize, but the smart home device manufacturers just can't seem to stay in their own lane.


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 Comfort & Quality – Today's television producers deliver screen audio/video that for most people is equal to what they might enjoy in a theater without all of the added work/hassle of getting to/from the venue.


Sure, the TV folks offer a dizzying array of screens in all sizes, including whole walls with a range of viewing quality and performance depending on how much you're willing to pay.

At first, they pitched the screens as the definitive answer to viewing/listening entertainment that meant you never had to leave the house to have a real theatrical experience without changing your outfit or your diet.

Then, they hit on the idea that the big screen should be your home control center – monitoring just everything for you.

But wait a minute. It's an entertainment screen and if we make it smart, let's make it really smart and make it your door to the world of streaming options.


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 Smart Viewing – If you walked the floors at CES this year, you saw a wide array of home viewing screens in almost every size and with eyepopping imagery. In recent years, the ones folks purchased were SMART sets that made it fast and easy to connect the screen to today's many streaming video services.


According to Strategic Analytics, smart TV is a standard feature of today's screens and is rapidly becoming the preferred platform for accessing folk's online content.

There's no need for an added box or dongle.

Just follow the directions (carefully), connect it to your internet service and you can watch the services/movies/shows of your choice because they're all located there at the bottom of the screen.

The sets "intuitive and user–friendly" UI (user interface) will help you discover content you seem to be interested in.

But wait ... there's more.

Industry leaders like Samsung and LG also include advanced analytics to track what you watch and for how long so the set can do a better job of offering shows/series for your viewing enjoyment.

In addition, they've added a neat little wrinkle by adding advertising platforms so they can also sell you more of their stuff as well as products/services from companies who want to reach/influence/convince you to buy their stuff.

A helluva deal.

So, what's wrong with this picture?

Not much.

Of course, you did pay full price for your giant home entertainment center and now they are using it to sell you more products/services and make even more profit on the added service.

Where we come from, we call that double–dipping.

Not that there really is nothing too wrong with it' but if they're going to sell us a screen and then turn around and sell access into our family/living room to advertisers, why are we paying full price for their screen?

Cripes, give the consumer a "substantial" discount on their entertainment/advertising screen and tell the buyer up front that they are going to use his/her data to sell to advertisers so they can sell you their products/services.

Better yet, give them the screen and sell the advertising access to the highest bidders.

Oh, wait, someone is already dipping their toe in that approach. Telly, a company created by Pluto TV's co–founder Ilya Pozin is at

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At CES, they showed off their 55–in HDR screen with a secondary display with their TellyOS and a free4K Android TV dongle to handle all of the mainstream services like Netflix, Disney, and the rest. It also comes with three HDMI inputs, 2 USB inputs and a tuner to watch OTA (over–the–air) broadcasts.

It also comes with 40 games, popular music services access and AI–driven voice assist. And all you pay is your data (which the other guys are also collecting).

Or, if you want to opt out of data collection – you can also do this with your smart TV, but you have to hunt– really hunt – for the right setting.

Oh yeah, you also have to pay $500 for the screen which isn't a bad price but with his free TV experience with Pluto TV, Pozin thinks free TV, really free TV, is going to be the choice consumers will find most attractive.

Insert alt text hereSource – 20th Century Fox


People sorta like the idea of a company that is honest with them up front, so they know what they're buying or buying into.

And as Annie said in Speed, "Yeah, I've done extensive study on this."

Who knows, maybe Samsung, LG, Vizio, TLC, Hisense and the other big screen home entertainment sellers might find giving something to the consumer and selling access to the home can do more to increase their market share than bigger, brighter, more dazzling, more transparent screens.

But then, maybe...

Andy Marken – – is an author of more than 800 articles on management, marketing, communications, industry trends in media & entertainment, consumer electronics, software, and applications. An internationally recognized marketing/communications consultant with a broad range of technical and industry expertise especially in storage, storage management and film/video production fields; he has an extended range of relationships with business, industry trade press, online media, and industry analysts/consultants.

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