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Free Ad-Supported Streaming Rises Nearly 20% Since 2020

Dani Cook

As the introduction of more platforms moves the streaming market into a new phase, it seems as though much of the momentum is trending towards ad-supported services. It’s been widely reported that Netflix and Disney+ will soon be introducing ad-supported tiers to their subscription lineup in order to meet the desires of consumers in 2022. This also comes after the rapid adoption of free streaming options platforms such as Pluto TV, Tubi, Freevee, and the Roku Channel.

Data from Hub’s 2022 Best Bundle study shows that free ad-supported TV (FAST) services have become 18% more popular in 2022 than in 2020. The ad-driven platforms have seen a significant increase in users, fueling the realization that customers want ad-supported options, and they want them now.

Netflix had long rejected the idea of offering an ad-supported tier to their members before finally relenting following a massive loss of subscribers. As ad-supported options have proven to generate more revenue than ad-free subscriptions, it makes sense that the streaming giant would want to finally take advantage of that two-pronged business model.

As interest in FAST and ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) services has risen nearly 20% in the last two years, it’s hard not to relate this change to the pandemic. 2020 launched the need for at-home entertainment into the stratosphere, and with millions of families tightening their belts due to job losses and transitions in work, it makes sense that consumers would turn to free and lower-priced platforms for their entertainment needs.

The current state of the world and its political repercussions has continued to exacerbate the need for low-cost entertainment. Even when the price of living levels out and the worst of the pandemic is behind us, ad-supported platforms will, in all likelihood, be here to stay.

It seems that the major networks are very aware of this fact. The biggest FAST services are all owned by major studios: Pluto TV is owned by Paramount, Tubi by Fox, and Freevee by Amazon. Many companies have not only seen the advantage of offering consumers a “traditional” subscription streaming service such as Paramount+, but also a FAST platform like Pluto TV to allow for a broader consumer reach.

The rapid growth of the streaming market is continuing to give consumers more options, allowing those of all budgets to take part.

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