Each week, we break down the most impactful news, insights, and analysis in the OTT video industry.

Fox’s Tubi launches in five countries in Latin America

Tubi is expanding its presence in Latin America this month with launches in five new countries. New locations slated for launch include Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama. It marks the latest for Tubi, which is already available in Mexico since the AVOD platform launched there in 2020. Link

ESPN+ subscriptions tick up to 22.8 million

Disney announced that ESPN+ was up to 22.8 million subscribers. While that’s an increase of more than 50% from Q3 last year (14.9 million), it’s a far smaller increase when compared to the first two quarters of this fiscal year. In the first quarter, ESPN+ was at 21.3 million subscriptions, while in the second quarter, the number was 22.3 million. Link

Plex introduces a social experience with the launch of ‘Discover Together’

Plex just launching a “Watch Together” feature which is laying the groundwork to develop Plex as not just a streaming hub, but a streaming community. Initially, this includes the ability to add friends and see what they’re watching, bookmarking and how they’re rating shows and movies. Over time, Plex plans to leverage community engagement to help power its recommendations and, potentially, allow for streamers to engage in discussions around favorite content. Link

Walmart Ponders Streaming Deal With Paramount, Disney and Comcast

Walmart is increasingly looking to build its relationship with its customers beyond the footprint of its big-box stores, particularly given the dominance of Amazon.com’s Prime membership program. to court the company’s favor. As consumption of music, movies and TV shows shifts online, Walmart has explored different strategies to retain its media primacy, including buying a streaming service called Vudu and investing in Eko, an interactive video company. They could scoop up an existing partner of theirs Roku, just saying. Link

Disney+ tops 152 million subscribers, but growth slows in the U.S.

Disney+’s global subscriber additions in the latest quarter outstripped each of its main rivals that break out quarterly subscriber numbers. Whereas Disney+ added 14.4 million subscribers in the period, Netflix lost 970,000 subscribers; Warner Bros. Discovery added 1.7 million subscribers across HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+; Paramount+ added 3.7 million subscribers and Peacock stayed flat. However, in the U.S., Disney+ did run into a subscriber slowdown. The streamer only added 100,000 domestic subscribers in the period, compared to the 1.5 million U.S. subscribers it added in the previous quarter. Disney updated its subscriber guidance for Disney+ and expects to have 135 million to 165 million core Disney+ subscribers by the end of fiscal-year 2024. Link

Ad-supported Disney+ to launch 8 December in the US

From December 8, American customers will be able to trade time for dollars by saving a few bucks on their monthly subscription by submitting to ad breaks, a move championed by Disney as a means to give customers greater choice. Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution chairman Kareem Daniel said: “With our new ad-supported Disney+ offering and an expanded lineup of plans across our entire streaming portfolio, we will be providing greater consumer choice at a variety of price points to cater to the diverse needs of our viewers and appeal to an even broader audience.” Link

HBO Max’s Ad-Supported Success Should Provide Netflix, Disney+ Roadmap for Future Plans

One lesson that both services would be wise to take from HBO Max’s success is the number and frequency of ads. HBO Max attaches only four minutes of ads per hour to its content, and does not include ads on any HBO original programming. Disney owns the Disney+ library already, so this limited ads strategy will be easier to pull off. Netflix, on the other hand, is still negotiating with studios over who will get what in terms of ad revenues, but the writing is clearly on the wall: more streaming services will be adopting ad-supported tiers, and soon. Link

Google TV could offer native access to Xumo streams

would offer access to dozens of linear channels without the need to download a separate application, which would be the first time Google offered its users native access to free, ad-supported content within the Google TV ecosystem. Offering native access to free, ad-supported content would put Google TV devices on the same level as its competitors in that space. Roku and Amazon, which command around 70 percent of the domestic streaming platform market, offer free, ad-supported streaming services of their own: Roku users have access to the Roku Channel, while Amazon’s free streaming channels are baked into its Freevee service, which comes pre-installed on Fire TV-powered gadgets. Link

HBO Max’s Latest Change Is One Most Users Might Not Notice

HBO Max has pushed out its final updates in its plan to overhaul its back end, initiated in 2021 following a bad reputation of crashes and customer complaints. The update isn’t a drastic makeover — HBO Max still looks like HBO Max — but it improves stability across devices and adds a smattering of features that were previously unavailable. Link

The End of Peak TV? Not So FAST

While the volume of content for premium streaming services may indeed be contracting, expansion is still on the horizon for free ad-supported streaming, known as FAST. Google is reportedly on the verge of launching a lineup of free, linear streaming channels, and even WBD’s Zaslav is looking to expand into FAST, despite cutting back in nearly every other area. Library content may not be all it offers, however. FAST services Tubi and Crackle have each committed to releasing over 100 original titles on their respective services in the next year, a significant strategy shift for these platforms.  With competition continuing to ramp up in the FAST space, original programming is poised to become a new key tactic for attracting viewers, especially if it proves successful for services like Tubi. Original content has not previously been a major component of FAST programming, giving this space substantial growth potential. Peak TV probably hasn’t peaked just yet, at least in terms of the number of shows being produced. But the TV landscape will still look very different going forward, with fewer big-budget titles, more free programming and different levels of content across different tiers of advertising and pricing. Link

More than 70% of Netflix Subscribers Unlikely to Switch to Ad-Supported Tier

Whip Media released a new survey called “Streaming Satisfaction Report Spotlight on the Ad-Supported Experience,” and in it, current Netflix subscribers were asked how likely they were to switch to a lower cost Netflix tier that came with advertising. To that question, 43% answered “very unlikely to switch” and 29% answered “unlikely to switch.” Only 9% said that they were “likely to switch” and 5% said “very likely to switch.” Link

Whip Streaming Ad Study Finds Hulu Ad Experience Most Annoying

Respondents reported a particularly negative experience with the ads on Hulu, citing it as more annoying than users of other platforms, according to a new study from Whip Media. HBO Max, on the other hand, drew the most positive marks. Whip Media surveyed nearly 2,500 users of its TV Time app in the United States about their experiences with AVOD tiers of major streaming services. We can do better. Link

As HBO Max And Netflix Pull Back, What’s a Library Really Worth These Days?

It costs more to keep low-performing shows alive and online, paying out contract provisions, than it does to mothball them. That has to be a bitter pill for Hollywood creatives who did business with streamers but now must wonder if a fat but limited upfront paycheck is all there is even for those near the pinnacle of their craft. It’s piece work, cost-plus-15%, like delivering a widgets contract for the Defense Department. Perhaps it’s time for some new deal provisions that acknowledge the evanescent lifespans of many streaming projects. But as streaming services  continue to right-size their programming, spending, ambitions, and expectations, we need to figure out a different way to handle the old shows that didn’t become big hits. Free the orphans! Clear the shelves! Unlock the algorithm! Link

Why the future of streaming is in advertising

Although ad-supported streaming continues to lag far behind SVOD’s household reach, this gives AVOD and FAST substantial growth potential that SVOD no longer has. Indeed, the AVOD market will soon see a major expansion as Netflix and Disney+ prepare to launch ad-supported subscription plans. The former makes an apt case study for streaming’s potential future with advertising, which offers a path toward a more sustainable, long-term business model for Netflix and for the streaming business. Link

Netflix Games Engaging Less Than 1 Percent of Subscribers

latest engagement figures are unlikely to be warmly received by Netflix, as less than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers play the games according to Apptopia. In total, the games have reportedly been downloaded 23.3 million times and average 1.7 million daily users, which is far short of leading mobile games. Link

STARZ adds 1.8M subscribers to hit 26.3M globally

The total includes all of STARZ’s streaming services including STARZ, STARZPLAY International, and STARZPLAY Arabia. The service’s latest quarterly total represents a 9.6 million subscriber year-over-year increase from the 16.7M that the streamer reported in August 2021. In the past, Lionsgate executives have touted a target of 50-60 million global subscribers by the end of 2025, but recent reports about the company’s future might put that into question. Link

Warner Bros. Discovery Considers Free Streaming Service for Classic Movies

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav confirmed on the company’s latest earnings call that a FAST service is in the works. According to Reuters, one proposed service would open the Warner Bros. vault for free streaming of landmark movies like “Casablanca,” “The Maltese Falcon,” and “Citizen Kane.” While it’s unclear if Warner Bros. Discovery will launch a FAST service and what content may be included, this would be a lucrative option. A standalone library of classic films may not draw as many eyes as a general entertainment offering, so it remains to be seen if this is the path the company takes. Link