Millions of people watch free, ad-supported streaming services on Connected TV’s every month. Find out which services will help you reach the most people.
Linear TV may continue to be the king in terms of ad dollars spent but streaming TV is catching up as viewers are cutting the cord to spend more of their TV time with streaming options. This is largely due to the rise of free ad-supported television (FAST) networks that have become the fastest-growing segment in the streaming TV ecosystem.
It’s easy to see why viewers are turning to ad-supported streaming services. As economic conditions grow increasingly uncertain, more people are looking for entertainment options that don’t break the bank. Plus, most consumers are willing to watch ads if it gives them access to countless free entertainment options.
The popularity of FAST is a boon for marketers. Mostly because it allows them to capitalize on primetime spots, targeting millions through performance marketing tools. Read on to discover which FAST services should be on your picklist.
7 most popular ad-supported streaming services
While Paramount Global has a subscription-supported streaming with its Paramount+ network, it has also made moves into FAST with its 2019 purchase of the previously-independent Pluto TV. Founded in 2013, Pluto TV was one of the first FAST channels on the market, structuring its licensed offerings like a digital version of linear TV, complete with live broadcasting schedules and ad breaks.
Because of its digital nature and independent status, Pluto TV’s channels cater to specific tastes. Some good examples are reality shows, game shows, or cult classics like Mystery Science Theater 3000. This is a different approach than the ones taken by traditional networks. The service now carries over 200 channels, in addition to on-demand content and newly-added Viacom/Paramount-produced and syndicated shows and movies.
Publisher: Paramount Global
Total viewership: 72 million monthly active users (MAU)
The Roku Channel
Streaming set-top box manufacturer Roku developed The Roku Channel in 2017 to provide free content to millions of its users. The Roku Channel has since expanded its reach beyond its own products. It is now available across a broad range of streaming devices as well as a standalone website.
The Roku Channel provides viewers with thousands of free options to its viewers. Some good examples are on-demand shows, movies, and live TV media options from Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, MGM, and more. Additionaly, Roku has produced a line of exclusive content called Roku Originals, which includes hits like Weird: The Al Yankovic Story and Reno 911! Defunded.
Publisher: Roku, Inc.
Total viewership: 61.3 million MAU
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Like Pluto TV, Tubi was also one of the first FAST channels on the scene. Arriving in early 2014 as a free source for thousands of licensed films and TV shows. And much like how Paramount saw an opportunity for expansion with Pluto TV, Fox Corporation saw Tubi as its way to enter the free, ad-supported television space, acquiring the service in 2020.
In addition to hosting tens of thousands of movies and shows from 250 providers from across the globe, Tubi also hosts content from Fox Entertainment’s diverse portfolio and local news from Fox-owned networks.
Publisher: Fox Corporation
Total viewership: 51 million MAU
Originally developed as a web-based video content platform, Crackle is one of the earliest progenitors of the free, ad-supported streaming TV ecosystem. Acquired by Sony Pictures in 2007, Crackle made its way onto Roku boxes and PlayStation 3s in 2011. In 2019, Sony sold a majority stake to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, eventually selling the remaining portion in 2020.
Publisher: Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment
Total viewership: 40 million MAU
Previously developed for use on Vizio and Panasonic televisions, Xumo evolved to include Apple and Android devices, streaming set-top boxes, and the broader smart TV ecosystem. Its digital approach to linear TV broadcasting made it a perfect fit for Comcast, which acquired the service in 2020 to complement its cable offerings with streaming advertising-supported content.
Total viewership: 40 million MAU
Peacock is the current streaming home for the hit NBC and Bravo shows like The Office, Parks & Recreation, and Top Chef, among other classic and contemporary NBC and Universal-produced content. It also offers original programming like Bel-Air, and access to hit third-party shows and movies from Lionsgate, ViacomCBS, and others.
Peacock is a bit different from other streaming channels because it offers several tiers of free and paid access. Two are ad-supported: a free, ad-supported option that includes access to a portion of Peacock’s available content and a basic monthly subscription that provides access to the entire catalog with ad breaks. Nearly half of Peacock’s 30 million active users subscribe to Peacock through its free, ad-supported option.
Total viewership: 30 million MAU
Freevee’s undergone a few branding changes since its original inception as IMDB Freedive (then IMDB TV) in 2019. Despite the name change, the intent behind the channel has remained the same: it’s Amazon’s FAST offering, providing a free slate of licensed and original content separate from its premium Amazon Prime Video subscription.
Total viewership: 120 million combined MAU (value includes combined user count of all Amazon streaming services, including Freevee, Twitch, live sporting events, Amazon News, and others)
Reach millions of viewers with M&C Saatchi Performance
With the rapid growth of ad-supported streaming services — including the upcoming launch of ad-supported tiers on Disney+ and Netflix — now is the perfect time to add streaming advertising to your media mix. Our goal at M&C Saatchi Performance is to provide marketers with the tools they need to maximize ROAS, including access to premium inventory and precision targeting and testing capabilities.
To find out more about streaming TV read our recent paper; The Definitive Guide to Programmatic Streaming TV for Performance Marketing.
This free ebook contains detailed info on campaign strategies, where to find inventory, how to design creative that takes advantage of the unique medium, and much more. Plus, you’ll get critical insights from Samsung Ads, Roku, AppsFlyer, and tvScientific on best practices to help you succeed in your first campaign. Download the report today, and see first-hand what programmatic advertising can do for your brand.