Frndly TV touts a lean-back TV experience for cord cutters

Frndly TV continues to make strides in the virtual MVPD space, continuously upgrading its platform while keeping an affordable subscription price.

The value Frndly TV brings, co-founder Michael McKenna told Fierce Video, differentiates it from a standard subscription streaming service. It’s positioned itself as vMVPD with a lean-back viewing experience.

“We recognize that we aren’t trying to be all things to all people,” McKenna said, noting that Frndly TV, in certain segments, carries no sports programming aside from the Sportsman Channel, dedicated to outdoor sports like hunting and fishing. It was chosen because that channel, McKenna continued, fits Frndly TV’s subscriber base.

“We think there are multiple alternatives out there for people to access sports via vMVPD,” he said. “We think we can be successful whether we are the primary service of somebody who occasionally dips into sports content,” or as a supplementary provider for a household watching sports by another means.

Content-wise, McKenna added finding titles that are “developed and refreshed” by its programming partners is a key factor in how Frndly TV maintains its subscriber base. But Frndly TV recognizes it can’t grant access to all the content that’s out there.

“If you’re looking for ’30 for 30’ on ESPN, that is not what we’re about,” he said, also referring to live sports events like the NFL. “That’s just content we have looked at and said it’s too expensive. And our subscribers believe it’s too expensive, so that’s the trade-off.”

Such programming decisions are also largely guided by subscriber feedback, as Frndly TV pointed out in a previous Fierce Video interview. The service currently costs $6.99 per month and touts over 500,000 subscribers.

McKenna went on to say when he and fellow co-founder Andy Karofsky first launched Frndly TV in 2019, they felt there was an underserved market in middle America. And while there was a lot of content investment going on OTT-side, Frndly TV saw “tremendous” investment still pervading cable networks.

“Those cable networks also had a very loyal brand audience,” said McKenna. “So they may not like Comcast or one of the cable companies for what they were paying for them. But that didn’t mean they lost the affinity for the programming that they had developed a relationship with.”

That’s why Frndly TV made a conscious decision to start out using a traditional programming guide, as it wanted subscribers to enter a comfortable and familiar viewing environment in addition to accessing the content they wanted.

Frndly TV recently revamped its channel guide to show titles alphabetized by name – a feature specifically requested by Frndly TV subscribers.

Advertising and consumer relations

As ad-supported services rise in popularity, Frndly TV recognizes the value of its advertising partners. For the most part, the service doesn’t allow ad-skipping, though there are a handful of ad-free titles.

“We’re trying to be good partners for our content suppliers. We recognize that advertising plays a big role in their bottom line,” McKenna said, adding Frndly TV aims to be both user-friendly and programmer friendly.

And cord cutters coming onto Frndly TV are familiar with having advertising in their programming, he explained.

“We have not had a significant amount of pushback because I think that, for the most part, all these people are coming from – and are familiar with – the content and the ad insertion on those networks,” said McKenna.

Looking ahead, Frndly TV plans to continue building on interactions between its content partners and consumers.

“We think we play an important role in the ecosystem,” McKenna said. Frndly TV’s goal is to have a symbiotic relationship with programming partners and a value-add relationship with its subscriber base.

The company also aims to maintain a degree of flexibility to address audiences’ changing reactions to content. Given how often Frndly TV communicates with customers, McKenna thinks the service is well-poised to meet viewers’ expectations.

“If they’re looking for more on-demand content, we’re happy to make it available to them [within our cost paradigm],” he said. “If they’re looking for more linear channels, we’re happy to address that as well. Our goal is really, I think, to see how the market plays out over the next 1-2 years…strategically pivot to how the audience may consume content in 1-2 years and go from there.”