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A+E Pushes FAST Streamers, Debuts Skills & Thrills

Fern Siegel

Cable networks realize part of their survival depends on acquiring or building-out streaming platforms.

It’s not only how more people, particularly millennials and Gen Z are watching TV; it’s an economic reality: Streamer income can help offset drops in cable affiliate revs, providing a dual revenue stream.

How is A+E’s doing it?

The company’s strategy is to create a portfolio of FAST (free ad-supported TV) channels that are not part of its linear TV business. These channels, akin to Amazon’s IMDb TV, Fox’s Tubi, or ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV, also allow the media giant to expand its audience.

Yesterday, A+E debuted its third FAST channel: Skills & Thrills.

The adventure-oriented channel launches first on The Roku Channel. The other two, Lively Place and Crime 360, debuted in October 2019 and February 2020, respectively. Roku Channel, among other platforms, carries both, reports Digiday.

“Skills & Thrills” will rely on previous TV shows, “Ice Road Truckers” and “Top Gear.” It won’t carry original shows, but many of A+E’s legacy programs will be new for viewers on the streamer. Plus, the company can stream short-form videos between shows, given the more flexible schedule, which it usually distributes on YouTube or Facebook.

Mark Garner, EVP of content licensing and business development at A+E Networks, told the trade pub: “Our understanding in talking with our partners is many of these [FAST] platforms service customers [of whom] 30% to 40% are not part of the pay-TV ecosystem. So in that sense, we are serving customers who are no longer part of the pay-TV bundle and extending our programming to people we wouldn’t be able to reach through linear.”

On the ad front, FAST channel’s ad inventory is sold programmatically. Any platform that carries the content can also sell spots.