Samsung TV Plus has added two new channels to its lineup, bringing its free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) linear channel count to over 350 in the U.S.
The latest additions include PickleballTV US, a 24-hour free streaming channel that offers over 1,000 hours of live tournament matches, featuring the popular game’s top pros, as well as instruction, lifestyle shows and pickleball news. It’s also adding a channel for animated children’s program Fireman Sam.
The newest channels cover sports matches and a single-series IP or “binge” channel with children’s content. Samsung TV Plus’ Takashi Nakano, content and business development lead, previously told StreamTV Insider that binge channels “work great” on the platform, driving engagement without the need for users pick a specific episode. In October, Nakano cited a belief that sports has a place on FAST. Without detailing specifics of what sports on STVP would look like, he pointed to major and minor sporting events struggling with reach to garner the largest number of viewers as more consumers leave the pay TV model.
Samsung TV Plus, which is available on the OEM’s smart TVs as well as Galaxy mobile devices, smart monitors and Family Hub refrigerators, is available across 561 million active devices and has seen usage grow. Last November, it disclosed growing global viewership on the service over the previous 12 months by 60% year over year. At the time Samsung TV Plus counted over 300 linear FAST channels and also unveiled a product update. According to Samsung, STVP is the number one free ad-supported app on Samsung smart TVs.
The FAST service has grown its U.S. channel count after previously disclosing plans to double down on content. Globally, Samsung TV Plus has over 2,500 FAST channels.
Samsung has previously boasted success of The Movie Hub section on its FAST platform and this month is also offering a collection of “Movie Hub Romance” titles during February on-demand in the U.S. That includes “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, “ Runaway Bride”, and others. It’s also running a Movie Favorites by Lifetime showcase February 14-18 with Valentine’s Day programming by VC Andrews.
Samsung TV Plus isn’t the only service contributing to FAST expansion. In a report released by Samsung Ads in January, the company found that 12 new major FAST services have launched since 2019 to reach 19 in 2023. Meanwhile, as of November 2023 there were over 1,900 individual FAST channels in the U.S. (available on one or more major services), reflecting a jump of 214% compared to November 2020.
The report zeroed in on TV shows – and specifically reality TV – and local news FAST channels as proliferating the space.
Still, nScreen Media analyst Colin Dixon recently questioned whether the rapid rise of FAST services and content is poised to slow in 2024. The analyst noted content owners now have experience in what channels are working are more careful in what they choose to launch in 2024, predicting they will shutter those channels that aren’t making money and pull channels from FAST services that aren’t profitable.
“Content provider will start to rationalize their business this year,” wrote Dixon in a January 7 post. “Now that many have a year or two of experience with FAST services, they will be better equipped to judge the content that will work well on a FAST channel.”