Ad-Supported Channels Hit All-Time High, But Experts Say ‘Culling’ is Coming

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Ad-Supported Channels Hit All-Time High, But Experts Say ‘Culling’ is Coming

By Movieguide® Contributor

While free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) is more popular than ever, with over 1,500 total channels, experts believe this growth is unsustainable and the industry is on the verge of major cutback.

“[FAST has] been in this period of growth and now we’re at, or almost at, the point of shifting into optimization…You’re going to see, I think, over the next 12 to 18 months, a culling of channels,” said Sam Harowitz, Fox Corp.’s VP of content acquisition and partnerships. “It’s no longer going to be cost-effective to maintain and launch channels.”

There are currently over 1,500 channels on the FAST marketplace. Harowitz predicts that it will soon fall to 1,000 channels.

While a 33% cut would typically be seen as bad for an industry, in this case, it might help FAST channels, as the paralyzing number of choices currently available was one of the problems the FAST model was created to combat.

Will Gurman, VP of Content Strategy and Business Operations at Pluto TV, explained that the FAST model was originally created to relieve the paralysis of choice that comes from streaming services’ seemingly endless library. FAST, however, has developed the same problem.

“[The business] starts to build toward so many channels that it’s suddenly no longer that kind of lean-back experience, [and] you’ve kind of taken away some of the success of that model,” Gurman said.

Reducing the number of FAST channels will also improve the model’s overall quality as competition heats up in a squeezed space.

“There were channels when we started that were really just slapped together,” said Laura Florence, SVP of Global FAST Channels for Fremantle. “I don’t think everything can last with 1,500 channels.”

Movieguide® previously reported on FAST channels:

GAC Media, headed by former Hallmark CEO Bill Abbott, recently launched Great American Adventures, the group’s first free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel on Comcast’s Xumo platform.

“It’s always the right time to enjoy and celebrate the kind of everyday American traditions we all know and love. Great American Adventures delivers the high-caliber content that allows us to engage millions of viewers across our network,” Stefan Van Engen, senior VP of programming and partnerships, explains.

According to a GAC Family Media Facebook post, “From the team that brought you GAC Family and GAC Living, Great American Channels introduces Great American Adventures! This new, free channel highlights all things Americana, from southern cooking and outdoor living to DIY, while celebrating Great American traditions every day and every season. See what Great American Adventures has to offer.”

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