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Four enthusiast programming opportunitiesnScreenMedia

The great build-out of enthusiast programming is just getting started. Here are four opportunities that a panel of experts think are ripe to exploit in this rapidly expanding market.

Last week, I outlined the case for enthusiast programming in the streaming TV market. I moderated a panel discussion on the topic at OTT.X X Fronts with four experts in enthusiast programming from Trusted Media Brands, FilmRise, Shout Factory TV, and Cineverse. I asked each of the four panelists to name an opportunity in enthusiast programming that the felt was underexploited. Here’s what they had to say.

Gene Pao, EVP, Strategy and Digital, Shout Factory TV

Primetime sports have begun the grand migration to streaming, with NFL Sunday Ticket moving to YouTube and MLS to Apple TV+. However, Gene Pao, EVP of Strategy and Digital at Shout Factory TV, thinks the enthusiast action sports, which failed on cable TV, could also be a good fit for streaming:

Gene Pao - Shout Factory TV“Ten or so years ago, I used to work for Fuel TV, which was an action sports <cable> network owned by Fox. Fox converted it in 2013 to Fox Sports 2, a general sports network. Since then, that hole has still been there, and I think there is an opportunity in the action sports space.”

In FAST linear services, action sports do seem to be underrepresented. For example, Pluto TV has 17 sports channels, and about half could be considered action sports. However, most focus on full-contact sports like boxing, wrestling, and MMA. Other areas could be great opportunities for FAST services:

Combining companion podcasts with FAST channels

Tejas Shah, SVP of Commercial Strategy and Analytics at FilmRise, noted that successful shows like Succession and Game of Thrones spawned companion podcasts that were released right after the episode aired. He sees this as something that could work well with enthusiast channels:

“There have been users unrelated to FilmRise, that have created podcasts and YouTube shows to feature and review some of our catalog content and single-series IP. Creating that and incorporating that into FAST channels would be great partner programming.”

Podcasts have become very popular in the US, with more than half of people under 55 years of age listening to them each month. And many of the three million podcasters produce content on topics targeting specific enthusiast communities. As such, they seem like a natural fit with enthusiast channels on FAST services.

Almost any topic can work as a channel

Jill Goldfard - Trusted Media BrandsJill Goldfarb, SVP Streaming at Trusted Media Brands, stayed close to home for her recommendation of an under-used opportunity in enthusiast programming:

“You can look at any topic as an opportunity if you do it in the right way, and content is always going to drive that.”

To illustrate her point, she talked about a FAST channel Trusted Media Brands launched last year called At Home with the Home Handyman. The channel leverages the enduring Home Handyman magazine brand, bringing a variety of DIY programming, including originals like Leave it to Bryan, Money for Nothing, and The Before and After Show.

There are still opportunities for nostalgia programming

Channels with old-time TV shows like The Rifleman and Bob Ross are doing well on FAST services. Marc Rashba, EVP of Partnerships at Cineverse, thinks there are more opportunities in this nostalgia content:

Marc Rashba - Cineverse“I was a Saturday morning junky. So, I think that there is something in that nostalgia space – that my kids keep saying what were you thinking for watching something like that. Typically, people would show them on YouTube. I think there is a lot of fun content in there and something that is still untapped a little bit.”

Of the nearly 1900 channels available in the US, only 85 are in the animated/kids category.[ii] Pluto TV only has 22 kids’ channels, none related to nostalgia programming. It could be time to roll out the HR Pufnstuf and Banana Splits episodes!

[i] I’m not sure if pickleball counts as an action sport, though!

[ii] This data comes from FAST channel tracker.


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