The ad-supported streaming space is heating up, along with the available content on those platforms. At NATPE’s Streaming Plus event, executives from Vizio, Filmrise and Tastemade dished on how AVOD and free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) providers are attracting viewers with content.
One way is through single show linear channels, which solely air episodes from a particular TV show. These types of channels help viewers familiarize themselves with AVOD and FAST, noted Greg Barnard, director of content acquisition at Vizio.
“We’re essentially trying to generate a new behavior in the consumer,” he said at a Thursday panel. “FAST is new, AVOD on a streaming platform is new. What a single series IP channel does is it generates that behavior more seamlessly.”
Viewers can turn on that channel and immediately know what they’re getting, Barnard explained, “so it’s a lot easier to engage with.”
“Hell’s Kitchen” is a great example of a show with its own channel, said Daniel Gagliardi, VP of digital distribution and business development at FilmRise – one of the largest independent AVOD providers.
“It’s not serialized so you can come in and out, watch a little bit, and it’s very recognizable,” he said.
Gagliardi went on to say FilmRise has 40 FAST channels in the U.S., 25 in Europe and about 6-7 FAST channels in Latin America. Roughly 15 of those channels revolve around a single series.
“We give content to customers how they want it,” he said. “We have our own apps that sit on devices like Vizio, we have our own FAST channels that we program…the idea really is make it easy for customers to let them watch and single series is a way to do that.”
Pluto TV is one FAST provider that operates single-branded channels. This summer, it launched The Judge Judy Channel as well as channels dedicated to Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, just to name a few. And Cinedigm in June debuted an Elvis Presley channel, dedicated to content on the rock and roll icon.
Jay Holzer, head of programming and streaming at Tastemade – a digital network that offers food and travel-related programming, pointed out Tastemade isn’t operating any single series channels. Rather, it’s focusing on building out its established brand.
“It’s a 10-year old company, but this part of the streaming business is still relatively young for us,” Holzer said. “So I don’t know if we have a single title that we could build a single channel out of. We’re just not quite there yet.”
Though Tastemade can promote a particular title, he added, by programming a 7-8 hour marathon on a FAST channel. Holzer pointed to the Tastemade show “Struggle Meals,” which showcases meals you can cook for under $2 a plate.
“We can marathon that thing for 6-7 hours…it happens to be really relevant right now,” he said, referring to current inflationary pressures on the economy.
“While we don’t operate single title channels, our channel does operate like a single title channel on occasion,” Holzer added.
Curated content like single series channels is indicative of the evolving advertising landscape – and the data that goes with it. Vizio, Barnard pointed out, boasts the largest automated content recognition (ACR) dataset in the market.
“When we have the information, we’re better equipped to make better decisions for our consumers,” he said. “I think up until now we’ve seen a lot of running on FAST, running on AVOD…we’re past that point now…we’re in the age of optimization.”
Platform and provider collaboration
What optimization means, Barnard continued, is how platforms can work with content partners to identify opportunities that better serve the needs and wants of the platform’s users.
Holzer noted the relationship between platforms and content providers is a symbiotic one.
“We need the platforms to be successful at bringing in new audiences, and then merchandising our content or content of others to those audiences,” he said.
One of the ways Tastemade works with smart TV platforms like Vizio and Roku, Holzer continued, is by helping them understand the network’s programming.
“We’re uniquely situated in this lifestyle category where if you’re spinning up like a merchandising shelf for Christmas, I guarantee we have a ton of shows we can give you,” he said.
But the key for content providers, Gagliardi added, is just maximizing a content’s value, regardless of the platform it’s on.
“Our strategy is we have our content everywhere, if they watch it on the FilmRise app on Vizio that’s great, if they watch it on Vizio’s WatchFree+ that’s great,” he said. “As a content distributor to the broad market, I’m kind of looking across the ocean and I’m seeing everything that’s happening.”