In a first for the company, Samsung is poised to bring its open-source Tizen operating system to third-party smart TV makers, as it disclosed Monday new partnerships with international Original Development Manufacturing (ODM) companies to license the OS. The announcement is also notable for the company’s free ad-supported streaming TV service (FAST), Samsung TV Plus, which will be available for the first time on non-Samsung smart TVs.
ODM companies slated to utilize the leading Tizen OS include Atmaca, HKC and Tempo. New smart TVs under brands Akai, Bauhn, Linsar (distributed by Tempo) are already available as of this month in Australia. Additional brands, including Vispera (distributed by HKC), and Atmaca’s Sunny and Axen, will be available later in Q4.
The move stands to deepen the Samsung TV Plus FAST platform’s geographical smart TV footprint, as new TVs from the partners will be available in markets including Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States starting later this year.
Smart TVs from South Korea-based Samsung already lead the market. According to analytics firm Omdia, the electronics maker accounted for a nearly 30% share of the global TV sales market as of February – and was the world’s leading TV vendor for the 16th consecutive year in 2021. It’s followed by LG’s webOS, which commands around 18.5% of the market and just last week announced a new version that incorporates a new hub for third-party partners.
According to Samsung, to date around 200 million people from 197 countries use Samsung smart TVs powered by Tizen. With the latest partnership, that figure is anticipated to expand as third-party TV manufacturers roll out new TVs running Tizen.
“2022 has been a memorable year for Tizen OS as we celebrate its 10th anniversary and the very first Tizen-powered smart TVs available from other brands,” said Yongjae Kim, EVP of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics, in a statement. “Starting with these new Tizen-powered smart TVs, we will continue to expand the licensing program and introduce Tizen OS and its ecosystem to more products and brands around the world.”
Main features that users of the third-party TV brands get access to include Samsung’s Universal guide for browsing and discovery of content across different streaming apps, as well as personalized recommendations; the Bixby voice assistant platform for more convenient content exploration; and as mentioned above, FAST service Samsung TV Plus.
Samsung TV plus offers over 220 live free channels in the U.S. (and 1,600 channels globally) across entertainment, news, shows and sports. When Samsung smart TVs and other devices are included, the FAST service is already available across more than 465 million devices The electronics maker has put an increased emphasis on the FAST platform, relaunching in August with fresh logo branding and an intent to double down on building up premium content with partners.
It comes as more consumers are turning to free TV options, and FAST in particular, as a way to easily access content. Over the past year, Samsung said it saw a 100% increase in consumer viewing on Samsung TV Plus, including nearly 3 billion hours streamed across the globe.
As TVREV Alan Wolk noted in a column on Fierce Video, smart TV makers are well-positioned to play a key role in the FAST space – as not only do they own the hardware and software, but also have automatic content recognition (ACR) tech to lean on. Aside from Samsung, LG and Vizio are the other main OEMs with respective FAST services.
“As the FASTs continue to add users, they will get better, more high profile content along with better, more personalized interfaces,” Wolk wrote, adding cable networks are also gravitating towards FASTs to generate more eyeballs.
Speaking to Fierce Video in August, Sang Kim, SVP of Product and Marketing at Samsung, said the company is funneling investment into technology and people, but primarily into higher quality content – with the majority being licensed from industry partners.
To that end, it plans to double its video on-demand library in 2023, and owned and operated channels (of which it has 50). On the premium content side, it’s strengthened partnerships with A+E Networks, The E.W. Scripps Company and BBC studios. It’s also looking to bring in new categories that resonate with FAST viewers – particularly news.
Samsung TV Plus now offers all four major live FAST broadcasters, ABC News Live, CBS News, LiveNow from Fox and NBC News NOW. It also has Bloomberg TV+ UHD, Cheddar News and Telemundo. And expanded live and local news is something Kim said consumers were asking for – with Samsung TV Plus now offering local programming across more than 40 DMAs.
In boosting content, Samsung TV Plus just last week served up six new FAST channels, including a Halloween-focused movie channel, and content from Grit XTRA, Ion Mystery and others.