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Free Ad-supported Streaming TV Revenue Expected to Nearly Double by 2023

Aubrey Chorpenning

Several recent studies have shown that consumers are leaning into ad-supported streaming services, and it looks as if their interest isn’t dying down.

A new report from nScreenMedia predicts that the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST industry) will reach $4.1 billion in 2023 and have 216 million monthly active users. Currently, the industry that consists of services like Tubi, Pluto TV, and The Roku Channel is worth $2.1 billion.

“There was a time when many forecast the death of linear TV viewing,” said nScreenMedia analyst Colin Dixon. “However, it is now clear that the format continues to deliver value to viewers. The FAST market has just begun a long period of rapid expansion.”

“At Verizon Media, we’ve witnessed the evolution of OTT and the rapid adoption of FAST platforms as our customers look to increase their audience reach and provide greater pricing flexibility to consumers,” said Ariff Sidi, general manager and chief product officer, Verizon Media Platform.

Pluto TV, Tubi, and The Roku Channel have all benefited from consumers’ growing interest in ad-supported services. Pluto TV has doubled its monthly active users in the past year, while Tubi reported 900 million minutes viewed. Meanwhile, Roku Channel is seeing success after rebranding Quibi’s library as Roku Originals. Offering original content is one way to draw in consumers, and Tubi appears to be heading down that route in the future.

nScreenMedia’s report also gives insight into what FAST services and viewers look like today. FAST viewers are using the services for as much as 20 minutes per day. For every hour watched, users saw about 13 to 14 minutes of ads. Viewers watched three to six ads per break, and each break was about six to nine minutes apart.

Another recent study also shows that FAST services are gaining traction, and they’re now used in six out of 10 TV homes.

For some consumers, commercials are one of the reasons they decided to cut the cord and begin streaming. While some consumers still dislike ads, many actually don't mind them, especially if they can get access to free or cheap entertainment in return. TiVo’s Video Trends Report for Q2 of 2021 shows that 81% of consumers would rather use a free ad-supported service than subscribe to another paid service.

  • Pluto TV

    Pluto TV is a free live TV streaming service that provides more than 250 channels of live TV and thousands of on demand movies and TV shows.

    Most of what you’ll find on Pluto TV qualifies as “background television.” It’s fine to keep on while you’re scrolling on your phone or cooking something in the kitchen.

    Because these aren’t traditional live TV channels, it’s not a great option for live events, news, or sports, but it’s a solid choice for cord cutters who want to supplement their other services with some “comfort food” TV.

  • Tubi

    Tubi is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 42,000+ movies and television shows - more than any other streaming service. Fox executives have called their service “TV on steroids.”

    Tubi’s programming includes films and television series from Fox Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and more.

  • Roku Channel

    The Roku Channel is a free live TV streaming service that provides 270+ live linear streaming channels and more than 80,000 free movies and TV shows. The library contains entertainment from several different decades, including some major hits.

    The service also made a splash by the acquisition of the Quibi library, now presented as Roku Originals. More original content is set to follow.

    Users can add premium subscriptions to services like Showtime, STARZ, and AMC+ that can be accessed within the Roku Channel ecosystem.