Hub: Ad-Supported SVOD Tiers Gaining Popularity

As the cost of stacking multiple streaming subscriptions rises, free-ad-supported TV (FAST) platforms are gaining users. But new data from Hub Research’s annual “Monetization of Video” study suggests that tiered platforms — where viewers can choose between a paid, ad-free option and a less expensive (or free), ad-supported option — appeal to the largest cross-section of viewers.

In the survey, conducted in June among 1,607 U.S. TV viewers age 16-74, respondents were divided into two groups. Each group was asked to choose from three hypothetical streaming services with identical content.

Group one chose from a paid, ad-free subscription, a free-with-ads service, and a paid, limited-ads subscription (“fewer ads than you’d see on regular live TV”).

Group two chose from the same options, except the limited-ads service was replaced with a paid service offering two tiers to choose from: ad-free and ad-supported.

According to the data, almost twice as many consumers chose the service with tiered options (36%) as the service with a limited-ad option only (19%).

The percentage of respondents choosing the tiered service was just as high as the percentage choosing free-with-ads, and higher than the percentage choosing the service with only a single, ad-free option.

In a question asked before the ad-supported tier of HBO Max launched in June, almost 40% of current HBO Max respondents said they’d consider switching to the ad-supported tier. But more than a quarter of those who don’t subscribe to Max said they’d consider signing up with a less-expensive ad-supported tier as an option.

“It’s true that some TV viewers will do almost anything, including paying a premium, to avoid ads. But there are many who will choose ad-supported TV if it saves money or lets them watch a show they can’t watch somewhere else,” Jon Giegengack, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “Tiered plans give viewers control of their experience. Whether they watch with ads or not, everyone is getting an experience they chose, and not one chosen for them.”

Redbox Adds Wurl to Free Live TV Streaming Platform

Redbox July 22 announced it has partnered with Wurl, a provider of streaming video distribution and advertising services for connected TV (CTV), to facilitate and expand the selection of free channels on Redbox Free Live TV.

With nearly 100 channels of programming, Free Live TV caters to the tastes and interests of Redbox’s 40 million kiosk disc rental customers.

“By utilizing Wurl’s cloud-based technology and access to content providers and channels in the Wurl Network, Redbox will be able to efficiently and rapidly add a wide array of free channels to its service,” Sean Doherty, CEO of Wurl, said in a statement. “Redbox has a long history of providing choice and value to consumers and we are thrilled to be working with them to continue that legacy via their FAST platform.”

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“As we continue to expand our ad-supported offering including Free Live TV, it’s important that we deliver a diverse and compelling line-up of entertainment channels that we know our customers will both love and be able to easily access directly from the Redbox App.,” added Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand. “Wurl delivers great content and technology that will continue to delight our audience.”

Redbox has been a leader in quality home entertainment for nearly two decades delivering choice and value to customers and partners across physical and digital channels. Beginning in 2020, Redbox expanded its service to include free, ad-supported platforms — Free Live TV and Free On Demand — to satisfy demand for free content which is expected to grow to $26 Billion by 2023 (SNL KAGAN 2020). Redbox has transformed itself into a diversified entertainment business including film distribution, premium video on demand (PVOD), transactional video on demand (TVOD), ad-supported linear and on demand (AVOD).

Study: Almost Half of TV Content Viewers in U.S. Use an AVOD Service Monthly

Almost half (46%) of TV content viewers in the United States report using an ad-supported streaming service (AVOD) at least monthly, according to a new study.

Meanwhile, 28% use a free ad-supported TV (FAST) service with ad supported linear channels in addition to their on-demand offerings, according to Horowitz Research’s recent State of Viewing and Streaming 2021 report.

Consumers are using a wide range of ad-supported services with linear content. Pluto TV, Tubi, The Roku Channel app, and IMDb TV are the services consumers report using most often, according to the survey of 2,000 TV content viewers conducted in May.

Streaming is poised to eclipse traditional platforms in terms of share of viewing of long-form TV content, the Horowitz study showed. Among consumers overall, 35% of self-reported time spent is now spent on linear content delivered via a traditional service (cable, satellite, or over-the-air through an antenna), while 37% is spent on streamed content (the rest is spent on cable or satellite-delivered VOD, content that is DVR’d, or DVDs).

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Half (50%) of time spent among 18-34 year olds is on streamed content, while only 18% of their time is spent with traditional, linear content.

Six in 10 (58%) streamers feel that ads are a fair “price” for being able to watch TV content for free or for a small price. Almost four in 10 consumers (38%) are starting to notice — and appreciate the more customized, personalized advertising experience they are getting through streaming.

“Consumers’ love for entertainment content and their desire to get as much of that content as they can for as little as they can hasn’t changed,” noted Adriana Waterston, SVP of insights and strategy for Horowitz. “The fundamentals of the industry haven’t changed. What has changed are the expectations consumers have about how, where and when they can consume the content they love, and the technology that exists to deliver those experiences. When delivered in the screen-agnostic, watch-anywhere, and highly personalized viewing experience of the streaming environment, we are seeing some consumers not just tolerating, but welcoming advertising, particularly when it is customized to their interests.”

Redbox Expands Content on Free Live TV and On Demand Platforms

Redbox is expanding its lineup of content available through its free, ad-supported streaming platforms Free Live TV and Free On Demand.

Redbox’s Free Live TV has expanded to 100 linear channels featuring a wide range of channel partners delivering movies, television, news, sports and lifestyle content programmed for Redbox’s 40 million customers. Channels include Crackle, Popcornflix, Tastemade, Unsolved Mysteries, Cheddar News, Divorce Court and Pac-12 Network. Free Live TV is available on Redbox.com, Roku, iOS and Android devices, Android TV, Vizio Smart TVs, LG TVs, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Samsung and Chromecast.

Free On Demand, Redbox’s free ad-supported service, has added to its catalog of movies and television, adding content from Shout! Factory, Legendary Television, Magnolia Pictures and Relativity Media. This Summer 13 (Jason Statham), Empire State (Dwayne Johnson), Solace (Anthony Hopkins) and Child 44 (Tom Hardy), among other titles, will be available on Free On Demand along with hundreds of additional titles. Free On Demand is available on Redbox.com, Roku, Vizio, LG, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and iOS and Android with more devices coming soon.

“We know audiences are hungry for entertainment, and we’ve seen steady growth across Free Live TV and Free On Demand since they were launched in 2020,” Jason Kwong, chief strategy and digital officer at Redbox, said in a statement. “Redbox is building a home for audiences looking for the widest possible selection of entertainment at every price point, including free.”

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Over the past two years, Redbox has transformed into a multi-product entertainment provider with physical and digital options for consumers. In 2020, Redbox expanded its service to include free, ad-supported platforms — Free Live TV and Free On Demand. Redbox now serves multiple windows and business models, including film distribution, transactional video on demand (TVOD), premium video on demand (PVOD), ad-supported linear and on demand (AVOD).

As previously announced on May 17, Redbox entered into a definitive agreement to combine with Seaport Global Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company. The transaction, which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, will result in Redbox becoming a publicly traded company on Nasdaq under the ticker RDBX. Redbox expects to use the capital from the transaction to invest in innovation, pay down debt and accelerate the company’s digital transformation.

Samsung Expands TV Plus AVOD Platform to Web

Samsung has quietly rolled out its ad-supported “TV Plus” streaming video platform app for anyone to access on the internet. The app, which streams third-party content such as ABC News Live, PBS Kids, ION Plus and Vice, similarly to Redbox Live TV, The Roku Channel, Pluto TV and Tubi, has been available since 2016 for mobile devices and Samsung TV owners.

Samsung also made the app available to cast on Google Chromecast devices, according to Protocol, which first reported the move.

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Since launching the app, Samsung reportedly has installed the platform in 50 million of its connected televisions, in addition to access on Galaxy mobile devices. It is also available in 23 countries.

“We stream billions of minutes every month,” Sang Kim, SVP of Samsung Electronics, told the publication.

Indeed, AVOD and free ad-supported streaming television, or FAST, has grown in popularity among CE manufacturers and media companies unwilling to directly take on SVOD, including heavyweights Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu.

More importantly, AVOD is generating ad-revenue, hundreds of millions of dollars worth. In its most-recent fiscal filing, Roku reported it generated $466 million in Q1 platform-related ad revenue, up 101% from the previous-year period.

Both ViacomCBS and Fox Entertainment contend their respective AVOD platforms (Pluto TV and Tubi) can generate about $1 billion in annual advertising revenue by next year.

Lionsgate Names Ryan Lowerre President of Domestic TV and Digital Distribution

Ryan Lowerre has joined Lionsgate as president of domestic television and digital distribution.

His appointment completes the reconfiguration of the company’s Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution Operations.

Lowerre will be responsible for overseeing the distribution and licensing of Liongate’s 17,000-title film and television library, feature films and first-run television series to clients in the SVOD, AVOD, basic cable and free TV space across the United States and Canada.

“The demand for premium content is increasing all the time as more new buyers emerge to compete in the domestic marketplace,” Lionsgate president of worldwide television distribution Jim Packer, to whom Lowerre will report, said in a statement. “Ryan’s past work experience and business relationships make him the perfect candidate to help Lionsgate capitalize on the growing opportunities of an ever-changing media environment. He understands the needs of our buyers and brings a fresh and invigorating perspective to the team and our domestic business.”

“Lionsgate is an entrepreneurial content leader at the forefront of innovative and bespoke distribution models, with a slate of current releases and a robust library that reach every corner of the world,” Lowerre said in a statement. “I’m proud to join Jim and the Lionsgate family in positioning the Company as a partner of choice to domestic streaming and linear buyers as their appetite for content continues to grow exponentially.”

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Prior to joining Lionsgate, Lowerre served two stints at Amazon Prime Video, most recently as head of licensed content, U.S., where he was overseeing the licensed content portfolio. During his tenure at the streamer, Lowerre’s responsibilities also included licensing first run TV series as well as leading the company’s content acquisition efforts for international expansion into the VOD/EST space. Lowerre also worked at Hulu where he oversaw content investment of hit television series such as “Black-ish,” “Power,” “The Good Doctor” and “Golden Girls.”

Lowerre began his professional career at 20th Century Fox in International Television Distribution with roles in finance and deal valuation as well as licensing deal negotiations in international markets for premium pay TV and SVOD. He holds an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Survey: Almost Two-Thirds of U.S. Video Streamers Have Switched From Ad-Free to Ad-Supported Services

Almost two-thirds (60%) of American video streamers said they have switched from ad-free to ad-supported streaming services in the past year, according to a survey from Piplsay, a global consumer research platform.

Meanwhile, 28% of them said they had completely switched to ad-supported streaming services.

Half (49%) of Americans were extremely satisfied with the content offered on ad-supported streaming services.

Hulu (34%) and Peacock (23%) were the top choices for paid and free ad-supported streaming services, respectively.

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Piplsay surveyed more than 27,800 people in the United States over the past week.

Pluto TV Adds Julia Child, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ Channels

AVOD service Pluto TV has added a Julia Child channel and a channel of the classic Western “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”

Pluto TV is owned by ViacomCBS.

The Julia Child channel, located on channel 519, features more than 165 hours of 24/7 content from the legendary chef’s cooking shows. The channel includes episodes of “The French Chef,” “Baking With Julia” and “Julia Child: Cooking With Master Chefs.”

The 24/7 “Wanted: Dead or Alive” channel features the full run of the groundbreaking Western starring Steve McQueen as bounty hunter Josh Randall.

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Report: AVOD Popularity Undermines Perceived Anti-Ad Bias

One of the appeals of SVOD has been the lack of commercials. However, new data on AVOD and free ad-supported streaming television, or FAST, suggests consumers could be changing their mind and commercial interruptions — for the right price.

Hub Entertainment Research revealed new data that contends less than 20% of survey respondents absolutely refuse to stream content with advertising. Indeed, 95% of all TV consumer respondents said they watch some programming with ads. Another 79% stream content from at least one ad-free platform.

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The Massachusetts and New Hampshire-based research firm contends that almost 50% of Netflix subscribers polled said they would watch pre-roll ads (ahead of programming) if their monthly service fee dropped to $5 or less. The percentage of subscribers opting for ads injected into the programming declined to 39%.

“What’s clear from these findings is that what matters to consumers is not whether ads are included in the content they watch, but how ads are delivered,” said Mark Loughney, senior consultant and co-author of the study. “Even consumers who say they’re categorically opposed to ads will use an ad-supported platform if the price and ad delivery are right.”

Indeed, among respondents who were opposed to any type of advertising, 30% said they would accept advertising if the monthly subscription savings was from $4 to $5 dollars.

Finally, among respondents who said could not tolerate commercials within programming, 57% said they would be more likely to try AVOD distribution — a percentage that was higher than among respondents more receptive to advertising.

‘Impact Wrestling’ Gets Euro Expansion on Pluto TV

WWE competitor Impact Wrestling is getting expanded distribution in Europe through a new AVOD deal with Pluto TV.

A subsidiary of Anthem Sports & Entertainment Inc., Impact aims to expand its brand of professional wrestling content across the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The move comes as a continuation of Impact’s partnership with Pluto TV, which kicked off in April 2018 with the U.S. launch on the Fox Entertainment ad-supported streaming television service.

Pro wrestling has always had a niche following. The sport upped its profile after NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service became the official SVD/AVOD home for WWE events.

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Pluto TV users throughout Europe will have access to almost two decades of new and classic content, including sport icons such as Ric Flair, Sting, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash and AJ Styles; as well as Impact’s current roster of grapplers, which includes Rich Swann, The Good Brothers, former NFL player Moose, Deonna Purrazzo, Sami Callihan, Eddie Edwards, Jordynne Grace, Eric Young and Chris Bey.

“The global demand for quality professional wrestling programming has, arguably, never been higher, and we are excited for the opportunity to provide millions of pro wrestling fans both old and new with the ultimate ringside seats to all the epic matchups, original series,” said Jaime Pollack, chief revenue officer, sports media group, which includes Impact Wrestling.

Impact programming is televised globally in 120 countries including AXS TV in the U.S., as well as on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms.