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nScreenNoise – The enthusiast programming opportunitynScreenMedia

While US growth among the top SVODs has slowed to a crawl, people are still adopting new services and FAST channels. Enthusiast programming is driving the growth.

Last week, I outlined the case for enthusiast programming in the streaming TV market before moderating a panel discussion at OTT.X X Fronts. I think the case is compelling, and in today’s podcast, I’m going to explain why.

Do you want to get up to speed on the FAST market? You need to watch my new class Getting to Grips with FAST: a Primer on Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV. Whether you are new to or immersed in the market, we’ve got you covered. The class defines key terms, explains how the market grew so quickly, reveals the superpower of each of the top FAST services, and tells you where the market is headed. It leverages the latest data putting it in context, so you leave understanding the dimensions of the FAST market, why it got that way, and where it is going. So, grab your notebook, and let’s get started!

What is enthusiast programming (2:00)

What is enthusiast programming? Broadly speaking, it is a service or channel that caters to some specific interest, minority group, or subject. Britbox is an enthusiast service targeting fans of British TV, Crunchyroll is essential to serious anime fans, and Bull Riders Channel targets rodeo fans.

So, what is the opportunity for these types of video services? Sometimes, it is good to look into the past to understand what might happen in the future.

We have limited bandwidth to deal with video sources (2:45)

In the heyday of cable TV, the industry kept adding more channels to our subscription packages. In 2008, the average person had access to 129 TV channels, and by 2013 that had grown to 189. However, the number of channels used each month didn’t change; it was 17.3 in 2008 and 17.5 in 2013.Number of TV channels receivable versus watched 2008-2013

Most people watched at least one of two of the most popular channels: ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. And other popular channels like ESPN and Discovery were in many people’s bundles. But beyond that, those 17 channels differed greatly.

We seem to be headed in a similar direction with Internet TV. The average person in the US and Canada now accesses 12 TV services regularly. And many people already have the general entertainment services they want. 4 in 5 people have one of the top three SVOD services, and 3-in-5 have two or more of them. Unsurprisingly, the opportunity for growth among general entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ has slowed dramatically:

That’s not to say that SVOD subscriptions aren’t still growing. While the number of people with one of the top three SVOD services increased by only 5% between 2020 and 2022, the average number of paid services per person increased by 17% in 2022 alone.

Where is the extra growth coming from? Smaller services, many of which provide enthusiast programming.

FAST services are a special opportunity (7:20)

Number of FAST channels available in US servicesToday, many FAST services provide 300 to 400 channels, including a good smattering of enthusiast channels like Revry, Bob Ross, and the Bull Riders Network. However, there is plenty of room for growth. As Jill Goldfarb, SVP of Streaming at Trusted Media Brands, said during the panel discussion at OTT.X X Fronts:

“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.”

But there is a new unique opportunity in FAST services for video content owners with enthusiast content. The fastest-growing category of channels in FASTs is channels based on a single title. Midsommer, Bay Watch, and Let’s Make a Deal have dedicated channels. This week Plex added a slew of new channels, including single-IP channels DR. G Medical Examiner, Unsolved Mysteries, and Screambox TV. And many more are on the way.

The enthusiast content opportunity could see a boost (10:00)

Cord-cutting is accelerating. And the situation could get worse as premium sports continue their migration to streaming, enabling more people to contemplate life without a cable TV subscription. But remember those minority channels people watched as part of their 17 channels? They will be hunting for replacements from streaming services. And if they cut the cord, they will have $100 or more freed up to spend on new SVOD services. They will also be hunting in FAST services because free is always popular! And with many new people bringing their huge array of special interests, expect content providers to step up with new channels to cater to them.

You can find out what my panel of experts thinks are some of the best opportunities in enthusiast programming at Just search for “enthusiast” to find that opinion piece. You’ll also find a transcript of this podcast with some graphs to help you better understand the opportunity for enthusiast programming.


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