NBCUniversal launches nearly 50 FAST channels on Freevee, Xumo Play

NBCUniversal on Thursday disclosed the launch of a broad collection of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels with content across entertainment, news, Spanish-language and sports. Amazon’s Freevee and Xumo Play have signed on for the channels at launch, with deals to license the entire NBCU FAST content portfolio and bring nearly 50 FAST channels to each platform.

In the announcement NBCU outlined 28 channels including entertainment series with past seasons of hit shows like “Saturday Night Live,” “The Real Housewives” franchises,” “Top Chef” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashian.” It’s also launching four Telemundo channels, a Rotten Tomatoes channel, and FAST linear channels dedicated to library content like “Little House on the Prairie” and “Saved by the Bell.”

The content is slated to arrive on Freevee and Xumo Play this summer.

It adds to and greatly expands NBCU’s existing lineup of FAST channels including Dateline 24/7, NBC News Now, and Local NBC and Telemundo news stations.

“NBCUniversal is in the enviable position of owning a vast array of iconic shows that are not part of our broadcast and cable networks to curate a valuable portfolio of FAST channels,” said Matt Schnaars, president, NBCUniversal Content Distribution, in a statement. “These channels, with content from some of the most recognizable brands in television, will find an immediate audience in the growing FAST ecosystem, and create value for NBCUniversal, our distribution partners, and our advertisers.”

In addition to new content coming to Xumo Play (the consumer-facing FAST that’s part of the Xumo joint venture between Charter and NBCU-parent Comcast), the deal marks a win for the enterprise arm of Xumo, which was tapped to power the distribution of NBCU’s new FAST channels on third-party services – starting with Amazon Freevee. As reported by StreamTV Insider, Xumo Enterprise already helped power free linear channels on Google TV and more recently a forthcoming revamp from TCL.

Xumo VP of Content Programming and Partnerships Stefan Van Engen said in a statement that NBCU’s existing FAST channels “have always been top performers on Xumo Play” with the new offering bolstering the quality programming.

“Additionally, by providing NBCUniversal with tools and services to bring these channels to other platforms, we can help this great content reach even more audiences,” Van Engen continued.

Amazon’s Freevee, meanwhile, expects to add almost 50 new channels with content from NBCU.

“Freevee has grown into a destination for a vast selection of FAST Channels, offering customers a wide selection of programming to stream from nearly any device including the Freevee app, Fire TV, and Prime Video,” said Ryan Pirozzi, head of Amazon Freevee, in a statement. "We’re honored to be a launch partner for the full slate of FAST Channels coming from the NBCUniversal portfolio and can’t wait for Freevee customers to enjoy nearly 50 new channels, offering endless hours of lean back content to enjoy.”

NBCU is the latest company to license content out to FASTs as it looks for modes of monetization while trying to build a profitable streaming business. FAST services, meanwhile, are expanding content slates and bringing on more premium or well-known titles. In January Warner Bros. Discovery signed deals with The Roku Channel and Fox’s Tubi that covered 225 AVOD titles, including shows like “West World” and “The Nevers”, totaling over 2,000 hours of on-demand content alongside linear-style FAST channels.  

NBCUniversal also has its Peacock AVOD/SVOD streaming service, which did away with a free tier earlier this year but does still offer linear FAST-style channels on the platform, including about a handful that are joining Xumo Play and Freevee.

In a different kind of arrangement NBCU Peacock content will land on a FAST service through a new relationship with Vizio, which is offering a free limited-time preview of Peacock content on the smart TV maker’s WatchFree+ FAST service. The Peacock preview channel is meant to give users a taste and drive interest and signups to Peacock, with prompts directly integrated so that if Vizio viewers like what they see they have a direct route to sign up for Peacock. NBCU is the first partner for Vizio’s content discovery feature, called Content Connections.