Samsung TV Plus boasts FAST viewership growth, unveils product update

The Samsung TV Plus FAST service has seen major growth over the past year and is rolling out an expansive product update including dedicated music and kids experience hubs, alongside new partnerships.

On Thursday Samsung said that in the last 12 months its free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service saw more than a 60% increase in year-over-year viewership globally. Samsung TV Plus counts more than 300 linear FAST channels in the U.S. and over 2,400 globally, with reach in 24 countries and 535 million devices worldwide across smart TVs and mobile.

It also disclosed the rollout of its 5.2 product update, meant to boost content discovery and help users find and watch the content they want faster and more easily. That includes the addition of a dedicated kids experience that’s part of the new home screen and discoverability features. The kids section aggregates “Best of Kids” programming across 20 family-safe channels, kids shows and on-demand movies. It includes content such as kids favorite Blippi, Barney and Friends, Baby Einstein, Teletubbies, Caillou, and more, as well as PBS Kids, Ryan and Friends, Lego Channel and others.

Speaking to StreamTV Insider last month Samsung TV Plus Content & Business Development Lead Takashi Nakano pegged a brand and advertiser safe environment that offers an experience with family-friendly content as a key aspect the company is “highly focused on” as it builds out Samsung TV Plus.    

“We’re very stringent on this idea of … if it’s safe for broadcast, it’s safe for TVPlus,” Nakano told STV in October. For more insights from Nakano and a deeper dive into Samsung TV Plus’ programming strategy as it aims to make FAST more like every day TV, read here.

Samsung is also bringing a new dedicated music hub into the mix that pulls in songs and artists across 200 playlists and more than 40 channels. Music content partners include Vevo, XITE and Stingray.  Within the hub Samsung offers categorized on-demand playlists including decade-based playlists such as '90s Country, based on genre like Hip-Hop Icons, artist-focused playlists such as Beyonce, Ariana Grande, The Weekend and The Rolling Stones.

“With phenomenal year over year growth and an ever-expanding premium lineup of family-friendly shows, music playlists, news, sports programming and more, Samsung TV Plus has a clear foothold in the FAST landscape,” said Salek Brodsky, SVP and GM, Samsung TV Plus, in a statement.

Samsung also boasted success of The Movie Hub section on its platform and disclosed an expanded and refreshed movie channel lineup that includes new channel additions of Movie Hub West, Movie Hub Action and Movie Hub Holidays. In addition, the FAST service offers local news from major networks, new holiday seasonal content offerings and multicultural entertainment including the recent launch of 10 first-to-FAST Spanish-language channels from TelevisaUnivision’s ViX streaming service.

Product updates are initially rolling out to Samsung smart TV models 2019-2023 and becoming available later this year through early 2024 to additional smart TV models and Galaxy mobile devices.

Samsung competes in the FAST space against several other players, including rival smart TV-makers like Vizio’s WatchFree+ (which itself just disclosed doubling its content offering over the past year), LG Channels, The Roku Channel, and more recently Xumo as the JV jumped into the smart TV space, as well as Google TV and Fire TV’s respective free TV experiences. There are also leading FAST services in Fox’s Tubi and Paramount’s Pluto TV.  In addition to boosting the value of its TV hardware offering for consumers, FAST represents a way for TV makers to generate advertising revenue.

In a recent 2023 State of FAST report from Xumo and Comcast Advertising the companies found that consumer and advertiser interest continues to grow in FAST, with 94% of FAST impressions delivered on the TV screen and 84% of ad buyers indicating they’ll increase FAST investments in 2024. 

“Every month, FAST channels are attracting tens of millions of viewers due to the plethora of high-quality programming including content like local news, niche sports, themed movies, enthusiast TV shows, and more,” said Marcien Jenckes, president, Xumo and managing director, Comcast Advertising, in a release coinciding with the report. “The results of this research highlight how the advertising industry is responding to FAST, and their increasing interest in its monetization potential.”

Separately, new research from Whip Media also found awareness and usage of FAST platforms is growing rapidly. The research found that 48% of consumers watched FAST channels at least a “few times” per month, including “every day, 8%”; “a few times a week, 11%”; “once a week, 5%” and “a few times a month, 24%.”

As for those that aren’t aware of FAST services at all, only 5% said they didn’t know of any FAST service – consistent with 2022 figures and a major drop from the 17% that said the same in 2021.