SME#9: The next FAST headache: Channel Discoverability
Streaming Made Easy #9
Welcome back to Streaming Made Easy. This week is all about FAST Channel Discovery and how we could improve it.
Today at a glance:
Analysis: The next FAST headache: Channel Discoverability
Streamer snapshot: Waterbear, the “Netflix for the planet”
Content Recommendation: “Reboot” or how our industry makes fun of itself
On Monday, I jumpstarted a Linkedin thread on the "7 fixes needed when it comes to FAST channel discovery”.
But why does FAST need channel discovery fixes in the 1st place?
It speaks to the number of FAST channels live on existing US platforms as showcased in FASTmaster’s latest report. You have 10 platforms in the 200+ channels’ club.
For reference, in the UK, we’re still below that threshold:
⏩ Samsung TV Plus UK = 148
⏩ Pluto TV UK = 169
⏩ Rakuten TV UK = 127
These numbers beg the question(s):
How can channels be discovered besides by scrolling down the EPG? How many channels are actually watched and therefore generate revenues? How many is too many?
Time will tell but we already see platforms taking down channels, content providers saying it’s getting harder and harder to get in.
In the meantime, I thought it would be worth dissecting the existing UX/UI of FAST channel platforms and discussing possible fixes.
FAST platform access
Pure players like Pluto TV or Rakuten TV opted for a central destination (an app, a website) plus a syndication model (some of their channels are distributed in 3rd-party FAST platforms i.e. Samsung, LG).
CTV manufacturers are now converging towards a similar type of integration:
➡️ Hisense/Vidaa launched Vidaa tv (without an app) and went for a deep platform integration with the tuner, channel guide, and EPG.
➡️ Samsung started as a stand alone app and then added a deeper integration plus a button remote.
➡️ On the Roku Channel, today you have a “Live TV” section on the left hand menu on top of the app, and of course they entice users to add an antenna to build a Live TV hub.
➡️ LG Channels is an app on 2021 and 2022 models but on 2023 models onwards, the revamped UI will also offer a Live TV Quick Card on top of the LG Channels App tile (no software update for previous models unfortunately).
© LG - 2023
Here my recommendation is to multiply points of entry and integrate FAST like you would with traditional TV (e.g. the Vidaa integration mentioned above).
To garner traditional TV viewership levels (and beyond), viewers also need to see FAST as Live TV regardless of whether it’s antenna or internet based. The best experience will be the one that doesn’t stand out as FAST. It will just be TV.
FAST Channel access
Now you’re in, how do you access a specific channel?
By way of example, 2022 models on Samsung offer an EPG, an on demand section, a bookmark option, editorial rows “Recently Watched”, “Most popular”. It’s nicely done but still limited as are the competitors’ interfaces.
A user will need to scroll down the EPG to look for more channels to watch. Do users do it or just stick with the top 20?
Scrolling down the EPG is tidious to say the least so what else could help channel discovery?
Here are fixes suggested by my followers and myself:
A well-designed onboarding, raising content awareness from the start, and promoting a user driven selection.
Shortcuts to categories/genres to avoid endless scrolling
Add sub-genres sections for more finesse
Better differentiation for programming that is actually "live" (taking place in real-time).
Deeper platform integration to increase FAST entry points
Additional promotional placements (editorial and sponsored)
On screen push notifications and pop ups to get you to discover new channels
FAST channels referenced in 3rd-party TV guides
Limit the overall size of the channel bouquet and making your UI/EPG real-estate more valuable.
Top 10 FAST channels in your market
Browse FAST channels by original language
New pop up channel(s) coming next month (for specific events)
Come share your own ideas in the comment section below.
📺 Streamer snapshot: Waterbear, the “Netflix for the planet”
Who said you couldn’t operate in both streaming and sustainability?
Waterbear is a Dutch Free VOD service (no ads, no subscription) launched in 2020.
It’s the first environmentally-focused service of its kind. FASTcompany quoted it “Netflix for the planet”.
You can watch award-winning documentaries, short films and series. Behind this service is Off the fence (a major non fiction content producer, 700+ hours of programming) and a network of 100+ NGO partners.
You can watch content, yes but you can also donate and volunteer for causes you care about.
Available globally on web, mobile, selected Smart TV apps, and as a FAST channel.
To check them out 👉 https://join.waterbear.com/
🎬 Content recommendation: “Reboot” or how the industry makes fun of itself
All the sitcom codes are here and rightfully so as it’s a TV series about the reboot of a sitcom from the early 2000s. My favourite character may very well be the Head of Comedy who joined the company after a data research job in tech. She knows nothing about TV, comedy but the network put her there to make data driven hits. Sounds familiar?
Go have a laugh to enlight the gloomy winter days 👉 Disney+
That’s it folks. I hope you found this interesting and if you did, please don’t hesitate to tell your colleagues, bosses, friends & families about it.
Enjoy your weekend and see you next Friday for another edition of Streaming Made Easy!
At night, I post each working day on Linkedin and write Streaming Made Easy.
By day, I run The Local Act, a streaming video consultancy.
Whenever you’re ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:
If you’re looking to start a FAST Channel business, I designed a Program called "How to get into FAST" where I fast-track the launch of your FAST Channel Business in 90 days (Book a call to discuss).
Last but not least, work with me 1:1 to grow your streaming video business in Europe (new market entries, competitive benchmark, distribution expansion etc.).