2023 is about to come to a close – and it may have been one of the most transformative years in broadcasting and streaming – ever. We saw Disney face off against Charter in the cable world, both actors and writers going on months-long strikes and the meteoric rise of Free Ad-supported Streaming TV (FAST).
Earlier this year, we touched on some of the emerging TV trends of 2023 – live streaming, Connected TV (CTV) growth and innovation in ad tech with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
So, what does the future of broadcast, streaming and FAST look like in 2024? Will streaming overtake cable? What is the future of TV advertising? Is everything moving to TikTok?!
We asked industry experts to give us their predictions for what we might see in 2024 – and what they hope to see.
Here’s what content owners and broadcasters should keep an eye on in the new year:
More money incoming, increased promotion, global growth, and FAST as the main way we watch TV
Alan Wolk, Co-Founder and Lead Analyst, TVREV:
On next year and beyond
I think a couple things are going to happen. One, it's going to continue to grow and it's going to continue to attract viewers. I think that the actual FAST services are going to start doing a lot more promotion, self-promotion in the way that cable networks used to. So you'll see billboards like, tune in to, you know, Beverly Hillbillies on Pluto at 6 p.m., whatever it is, but sort of old-school to try and drive tune-in aimed at consumers.
I think we're going to start seeing, once the SVOD services, once their ad-supported tiers take off, we're going to see a lot more money going into FAST because then all the big advertisers say ‘Okay, that's our primetime.’ And cable took a while, too, before advertisers realized, ‘Okay, we can hit all the people who are missing elsewhere on here, we can hit specific demos, we can hit specific geos. There's a lot we can do with this.’ And it's a great complement.
Then I think we're also going to see it going global. We're already starting to see that … Pluto, in particular, I think, is in 30-some countries at this point. Tubi is expanding globally. And it makes sense because our belief is that FAST is going to be the dominant way people watch TV in the world because [in parts of the world where] there aren't that many people who can afford subscription services for Netflix to go in and say, ‘Okay, we're gonna dominate this country.’ No, you're not. If everybody who can [watch Netflix actually watched Netflix], maybe that's 10 or 15% of the population who has that sort of income. So FAST is going to be the way people in much of the world watch television.
Hyper-personalization, rethinking ad formats for the consumer experience
Paul Cheesbrough, CEO, Tubi Media Group
Improving content discoverability and advertising as part of the user experience
The large number of channels is likely going to consolidate down, probably around 200-300 channels that are meaningful and can kind of punch out. And the longtail will probably eventually be a service through hyper-personalization, where the channel can be created on the fly depending on the consumers, tastes and interests.
The other thing is the ad load or the ad format in FAST channels needs some attention. Again, there's a lot of carryover there from linear. In a lot of FAST channels, linear channels these days, you still see these long ad breaks with multiple ad pods that are kind of unfulfilled. It's a pretty poor user experience. Having FAST channels think about the advertising as part of the consumer experience, rethinking the way you build the channel, rethinking the way you can constitute the experience [will be important moving forward]. And then all of the platform operators, the Smart TV platforms, especially, have a long way to go on discoverability.
Pop-up channels in sports
Andy Reif, SVP DTC, Programming & International, Tennis Channel
More collaboration between platforms and content owners
I definitely think that pop-up channels are something for sports you'll see. If we go to a platform and say ‘Hey, you have the opportunity to get this event, would you even want to share in the license fee for it, and we'll give it exclusively for you.’
Improved user experience
Soumya Sriraman, President, Streaming, QVC
On discoverability and the attention economy
First, can we solve for what I'm going to call the ‘Destination vs. Distributed Viewing’ and I think FAST needs to solve for that. What part of viewing are you allowing to be found versus being sought out?
And then the second thing is the attention economy. Customers are not particular about which one thing they do. I think we have to make sure that we solve for the attention economy.
Moving to FAST — a necessity for local broadcasters
Patrick West, Senior Sales Manager, Amagi
Local broadcasters: Moving to streaming, FAST, a necessity for the future
In a panel at NAB this year, Kerry Bubolz, President of the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights, mentioned that only about 25% of people in Las Vegas were able to see the Golden Knights on TV. It's a similar story in St. Louis and other sports markets. His point was that this is an existential crisis for any brand looking to grow its audience. Think about the impact this limited viewership has on merchandise purchases and even future fans (kids). If you can't create new fans or if your brand is irrelevant to audiences because they never see it, how are you going to continue to reach an audience that advertisers want to reach? Local broadcasters who are not participating in live streaming (aka FAST) are on a similar crossroads. If you're not reaching your audience, someone else is.