eMarketer: 80% of Prime Video Subs Streaming Ad-Supported Content

When Prime Video in late January began automatically inserting ads into its streaming content, a minority of U.S. subscribers will opt to pay an additional $3 monthly to avoid commercials, according to new data from eMarketer.

The research firm found that about 80% of domestic Prime Video subscribers will be streaming ad-supported content this year, according to its 2024 forecast. That compared with almost 78% of Peacock streamers, 73% of Paramount+ subscribers and 68% of Hulu subs opting for ad-supported content.

At the opposite end of the chart, just 7.5% of Netflix subscribers will opt for the $6.99 monthly ad-supported tier.

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Prime Video has more than 130 million U.S. ad-supported viewers this year, accounting for 57.6% of SVOD viewers, per eMarketer’s February forecast. Most of YouTube’s 241.8 million U.S. viewers will watch with ads, making it the only streaming service with more ad-supported viewers than Prime Video.

Although Apple TV+ streams ads during live sports, it is the only major service without an ad-supported tier, but media reports suggest that strategy might change in near future.

“Prime Video’s high saturation of ad-supported viewers also means modest growth for the ad-supported option at around 1% year-over-year through the end of our forecast period in 2028,” Meaghan Yuen, content manager at eMarketer’s Insider Intelligence, wrote in an online post. “Netflix and Disney+ will see double-digit growth in ad-supported U.S. viewers every year through 2028.”

Prime Video U.K. Adding Streaming Commercials on Feb. 5

Prime Video U.K. is set to begin adding “limited advertisements” across movies and TV shows beginning Feb. 5. The move follows the streamer’s rollout of ad-supported content in the U.S. on Jan. 29.

Like in the U.S., Prime Video subscribers in the U.K. can opt out of ad-supported content by paying an additional £2.99 monthly fee on top of the standalone £8.99 monthly fee.

“We aim to have meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers,” Prime Video said in a blog post, adding details about the swithc would be emailed to subscribers.

Prime Video said it plans to offer information about a new ad-free option, with updated pricing, at a later date.

Prime Video is joining streamers, including Netflix, Disney+. Max, Paramount+ and Peacock, that have initiated ad-supported streaming options in an effort to generate incremental revenue and reduce subscriber churn.

FreeWheel: Ad-Supported Video Content Continues to Impact Half-Year U.S. Streaming Trends

In an era of media companies rejiggering the direct-to-consumer video streaming market, the proliferation of ad-supported content and television screen size size (81% of TV viewing is done on a large-size screen) underscore video trends among consumers in the U.S., according to new data from FreeWheel.

Ad view growth has increased 6% the U.S. (6%) in the first six months of 2023 due to the increased presence of ad-supported VOD and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platforms, and marketing, based on audience characteristics (behavioral, demographic), up 80% year-over-year.

Consumer use of connected TVs is up 11% in the first half of 2023 from the first half of 2022. Mobile device use is up 19% from 2022.

Indeed, more than 76% of ad-supported content is consumed via an internet-connected television (CTV), followed by 13% via mobile devices, 6% desktop computers and 5% legacy set-top boxes. Among CTV devices, Roku dominates the market at 44% household penetration, followed by 16% Amazon Fire TV, 12% Smart TVs, 6% Google Chromecast, 3% video game consoles and 19% other devices.

In the U.S., 41% of ad-supported video content is distributed through TV Everywhere (authenticated streaming services accompanying a cable/satellite subscription), followed by FAST (23%), direct-to-consumer (18%), online TV (6%), digital content aggregator (6%), and set-top boxes (6%).

The majority ad-supported video content consumed in the U.S. is live (54%), with 46% derived from video-on-demand, including 70% long-form content, i.e., movies, and 30% short-form, content six minutes in length or less.

Meanwhile, audiences do not drastically adjust their choice of screen size whether they are watching VOD or live content, according to the report. VOD in the is primarily watched on large screens (76%) across CTV and STB combined, while live-streaming is even more likely to be viewed on CTV (87%). Overall, U.S. viewers gravitate toward large screen devices.

At the same time, video marketers are increasingly targeting CTV audience segments by behavioral indicators, rather than demographics.

“The overarching trend toward refining the viewer experience can be seen with this push toward relevancy in the ads served to individual viewers,” read the report.

BBC Studios Launches BBC Earth FAST Channel

In time for Earth Day, BBC Studios has launched a new BBC Earth free ad-supported television (FAST) channel.

Available now, the BBC Earth FAST channel brings more than 450 hours from more than 80 BBC Studios natural history shows to Amazon Freevee and Plex.

Content on BBC Earth includes:

  • Sir David Attenborough’s “Wildlife Specials” — Six of Sir David Attenborough’s “Wildlife Specials” are featured, including Elephants: Spy in the Herd and Gorillas: On the Trail of King Kong, in addition to several other Sir David Attenborough-presented natural history series.
  • Expedition Borneo — A BBC/Discovery Channel co-production, the series looks at a chain of steep mountains, deep gorges and high plateaus running down the spine of central Borneo. Protected from the outside world by this impenetrable terrain, the only people who survive in this wilderness are a few remote tribes. 
  • “Deadly 60” — From tiger sharks to giant centipedes, funnel web spiders to the golden poison frog, Steve Backshall’s latest adventure is a race against time to find the creatures others spend a lifetime avoiding.
  • “Galapagos” — The BBC/National Geographic Channel U.S. co-production looks at the inspiration behind Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Galapagos Islands are a living laboratory — a geological conveyor belt that has given birth to and seen the death of many species of plants and animals.
  • “Ganges” — A BBC/Travel Channel co-production in association with France 3, the series tells the story of the most extraordinary river in the world — the Ganges. Human life and nature bustle along her riverbanks, in a kaleidoscope of color and energy. 
  • “Wild Africa” — The BBC/Discovery Channel co-production looks at Africa’s burning sands, seas of grass and steaming forests, scarred by mountains and bejeweled with great lakes and rivers. 
  • “Wild Australasia” — The BBC/Animal Planet/ABC Australia co-production is a journey through time and space to explore Australasia’s natural wonders, delving into its hidden secrets to explain why its wildlife and wilderness are so special.

 

BBC Earth marks BBC Studio’s 12th FAST Channel since first entering the FAST space in 2019.

“We’re delighted to launch BBC Earth as a FAST channel,” Beth Anderson, GM/SVP of FAST channels for North America and Latin America at BBC Studios, said in a statement. “With availability on Amazon Freevee and Plex, U.S. audiences can now enjoy BBC Studios’ deep catalog of award-winning natural history programming, all editorially, personally curated and available for free. With Earth Day around the corner, now is the perfect time to tune in, marvel at the natural wonder and splendor of the seven continents and immerse yourself in the beauty of our ever-changing planet.”

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“With the addition of the BBC Earth FAST channel to Plex, we are bringing the natural world’s wonder and beauty to our users’ screens,” Shawn Eldridge, VP of business development and content at Plex, said in a statement. “The extraordinary content created by BBC Studios inspires us to protect and cherish our planet while immersing ourselves in astonishing storytelling. With hundreds of hours of ad-supported programming, there’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day than tuning in to BBC Earth on Plex.”

Speedvision FAST Channel Available on Amazon Freevee

Auto entertainment network Speedvision is now available as a free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) linear channel on Amazon Freevee in the United States, the network announced.

The network for auto-passionate viewers has a library of more than 500 content hours spanning any vehicle powered by an engine. From car build shows and garage content, to automotive history and auction programming, the network features titles including “Graveyard Carz,” “AmeriCarna,” “Stacey David’s Gearz” and “Two Guys Garage,” as well as motorcycle and aviation series. Speedvision also features such talent and experts as Wayne Carini, Bill Goldberg, Mark Worman, Stacy David, Ant Anstead and Ray Evernham.

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“Launching Speedvision on Amazon Freevee is further evidence of our rapid growth from providing highly attractive content to advertisers and our enormous auto passionate audience,” Robert Scanlon, president and CEO of Speedvision, said in a statement. “The Speedvision FAST Channel now available on Amazon Freevee represents a go-to content source for our viewers, so we’re extremely pleased to give them the gold-standard automotive programming they want, where they want it.”

Whip Streaming Ad Study Finds Hulu Ad Experience Most Annoying

Respondents reported a particularly negative experience with the ads on Hulu, citing it as more annoying than users of other platforms, according to a new study from Whip Media. HBO Max, on the other hand, drew the most positive marks.

Whip Media surveyed nearly 2,500 users of its TV Time app in the United States about their experiences with AVOD tiers of major streaming services.

“Hulu’s ad loads are known to be heavier than most in the industry and our results show that viewers have noticed,” according to the study. “HBO Max was the only service that users reported feeling the amount of commercials was less than expected. Their ad loads are very low at only 4 minutes per hour and HBO originals on the ad-supported tier do not carry any commercials.”

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Also, Hulu users complained they saw the same commercials too frequently compared to the other services, according to the study.

HBO Max leads the pack in terms of viewer satisfaction with their ad-supported service, which only comes in a few points shy of its ad-free service. Discovery came in last, with 64% of respondents saying they were satisfied with its ad-supported tier.

Netflix plans to add an ad-supported tier, but current subscribers don’t look to be very interested in switching to a cheaper Netflix with commercials, once the option is available.

Crackle Plus Launches FAST Channels on FuboTV

Crackle Plus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company and an operator of advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming services, has launched its Crackle and Popcornflix FAST channels on FuboTV’s platform in the United States. 

FuboTV’s audience will gain access to the Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment content library, including the college thriller series “In the Vault.” Viewers will also gain access to action shows from Popcornflix such as the feature films Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956) and Jackie Chan’s Little Big Soldier as well as the two-part limited series Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island

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“We are so excited to bring our constantly expanding content offering to FuboTV viewers,” president of Crackle Plus Philippe Guelton said in a statement. “Our advertising and marketing partners will now access new audiences through the launch of the Crackle and Popcornflix FAST channels on FuboTV.”

Other Crackle Plus recent releases include the popular sketch comedy series “Funny Girls”; the exclusive scripted series “Les Norton,” which stars Alexander Bertram and Rebel Wilson; “Inside the Black Box,” hosted by Joe Morton; and the BBC series “Sherlock,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The company also recently announced season three of the series “Going From Broke.”

The Crackle Plus streaming services are currently distributed through 85 touch points in the United States on platforms including Amazon Fire TV, RokuTV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and Xbox One), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com.

Netflix to Partner With Microsoft on Ad-Supported Sub Plan

Netflix July 13 announced it will partner with Microsoft on its previously announced ad-supported subscription plan.

“In April we announced that we will introduce a new lower priced ad-supported subscription plan for consumers, in addition to our existing ads-free basic, standard and premium plans,” Greg Peters, Netflix chief operating officer and chief product officer, wrote in a blog post. “Today we are pleased to announce that we have selected Microsoft as our global advertising technology and sales partner.”

He wrote that Microsoft “offered the flexibility to innovate over time on both the technology and sales side, as well as strong privacy protections for our members.” 

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“We’re thrilled to be named Netflix’s technology and sales partner to help power their first ad-supported subscription offering,” Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft president of Web Experiences, said in a blog post. “At launch, consumers will have more options to access Netflix’s award-winning content. Marketers looking to Microsoft for their advertising needs will have access to the Netflix audience and premium connected TV inventory. All ads served on Netflix will be exclusively available through the Microsoft platform. Today’s announcement also endorses Microsoft’s approach to privacy, which is built on protecting customers’ information.

“This is a big day for Netflix and Microsoft. We’re excited to offer new premium value to our ecosystem of marketers and partners while helping Netflix deliver more choice to their customers.”

“It’s very early days and we have much to work through,” wrote Netflix’s Peters. “But our long term goal is clear. More choice for consumers and a premium, better-than-linear TV brand experience for advertisers.”

Crackle Plus Launching Five FAST Channels on TCL Channel

Crackle Plus — a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company and an operator of advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming services — has inked an agreement to launch five FAST channels on the TCL Channel free streaming platform in the United States.

Crackle Plus FAST channels include Crackle, Crackle Classics, its newly launched Chicken Soup for the Soul FAST channel, action-fueled network Popcornflix and Truli, its faith and family streaming service.

TCL’s viewers will gain access to the Crackle Plus library with original and exclusive programming from Crackle, including the series “Taboo” and the feature film The Mercy; Crackle Classics’ film and TV series such as the “Laurel and Hardy” and “Little Rascals” libraries; adventure and action-packed shows from Popcornflix, such as the feature Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956) and the two-part limited series “Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island”; an extensive collection of female-led shows from Chicken Soup for the Soul, including “Smart Home Nation” and “Mothers and Daughters”; and family-friendly and faith-based content from Truli, such as the critically acclaimed Bible series “The Chosen.” 

“We’re thrilled to bring our constantly evolving library of content to TCL viewers since across all five of these different services; there is sure to be something to satisfy everyone,” president of Crackle Plus Philippe Guelton said in a statement. “Enlarging our distribution with TCL also reflects our determination to provide consumers with the best free entertainment with the support of our advertising partners who will be exposed to a completely fresh audience.” 

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“Crackle is a respected brand in the streaming entertainment industry, and we are thrilled to be adding their five channels to TCL’s robust lineup,” Rebecca Wan of FFalcon, responsible for the global operation of TCL Smart Screens, said in a statement. “TCL is committed to the free streaming space, and we continue to provide value to our audience by partnering with stellar brands like Crackle to deliver our customers top-shelf free content.” 

Crackle Plus’ recent releases include the exclusive scripted series “Les Norton,” which stars Alexander Bertram and Rebel Wilson; the suspense thriller Blast; “Inside the Black Box,” hosted by Joe Morton; the thriller series “In the Vault”; and the award-winning BBC series “Sherlock,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Crackle Plus also recently announced season three of the series “Going From Broke.”

Tubi Inks Deal for Films From National Film Board of Canada

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and Tubi have signed a new distribution deal to bring NFB films to Tubi, Fox’s free ad-supported video-on-demand platform, across Canada, the United States and Australia.

The deal includes 29 titles for the AVOD service.

“The National Film Board of Canada is thrilled to have our films on Tubi’s platform,” Nathalie Bourdon, the NFB’s director of distribution and market development, said in a statement. “This partnership, which perfectly aligns with our digital strategy, will allow us to grow our audience.”

“We’re so pleased to partner with the National Film Board of Canada to bring their premium, thought-provoking and award-winning slate of documentaries to our service for viewers to discover and enjoy,” Adam Lewinson, chief content officer for Tubi, said in a statement.

NFB films will be added throughout the year. Works available now include:

  • Angry Inuk (NFB/Unikkaat Studios/EyeSteelFilm), Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s powerful challenge to the anti-sealing movement and winner of the Audience Award at Hot Docs and one of Canada’s Top 10 Films, selected by the Toronto International Film Festival; 
  • The Apology, Tiffany Hsiung’s exploration of the lives of three former “comfort women,” kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II and winner of a Peabody Award and the Busan Cinephile Award for Best World Documentary at the Busan International Film Festival; 
  • A Better Man (Intervention Productions/NFB), Attiya Khan and Lawrence Jackman’s look at how healing can happen when men take responsibility for their domestic abuse and Top 20 Audience Favourite at Hot Docs and winner of the Sabeen Mahmud Award for Courage in Cinema at the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival; 
  • Out of Mind, Out of Sight (JS Kastner Productions/NFB), the late John Kastner’s final film with the NFB, exploring what happens to people who suffer from mental illnesses and commit violent crimes and winner of Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs; 
  • The Rose Family by Montreal filmmaker Félix Rose, who in the film tries to understand what led his father and uncle, members of the Front de libération du Québec, to kidnap cabinet minister Pierre Laporte—unleashing an unprecedented crisis (winner of the Prix Iris Public Prize at the Quebec Cinema Awards); and 
  • Unarmed Verses by Charles Officer, a portrait of a Toronto community facing imposed relocation that focusses on 12-year-old Francine Valentine, whose observations about life, the soul and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society (winner of Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs and one of Canada’s Top 10 Films, selected by the Toronto International Film Festival).