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How Consolidation Has Changed OTT and FAST

How has the recent greater shift towards consolidation impacted OTT in both positive and negative ways, especially in the context of FAST business models? Some risks are the potential losses in programming diversity and the possibilities of simply duplicating the offerings of traditional linear cable bundles, but there are also some potential benefits to this shift.

“There's been a tremendous amount of consolidation in the last 18 months,” says Cameron Saless, Chief Business Officer, Trusted Media Brands. He highlights the acquisition of Tubi by Fox and notes how other large players like Viacom and Comcast are also gobbling up streaming services. “Those bigger companies are going to revert back to the mean, right?” he says. “They're going to go back to what they know, which is your traditional cable bundle.”

These days, Saless notes, it is much more competitive to launch a new streaming channel. “In some cases that's actually good,” he says. “There needs to be a level of quality…this space is maturing, but I also feel like we're taking choice away from the user again, which was really the problem in the early days. So I love seeing more independent, more unique services coming out. You've all seen rumors of Google launching something that isn't tied to a big media company. There's a bunch of those things still out there.” Ultimately, Saless hopes that the big media companies look at these shifts as opportunities to do something different and reach younger audiences.

“I think it is a good thing in some respects,” says Jonathon Barbato, Co-CEO, Best Ever Channels. “When the real estate was wide open, everyone was launching a channel, and sometimes the same content ended up on two, three different channels. It was more of a real estate grab. So the consolidation is a natural market adjustment.” However, Barbato emphasizes the essentialness of not losing independence and originality in the process. “It would be all too easy for the large conglomerates to simply dive into their vast content libraries and stop there,” he says.

“I think that finding content and creating economically feasible content, but content that can stand out and make a channel different and attract an audience that is maybe neglected on other channels because they have a very special content interest – I think that's where we're headed…at least that's where I hope we're headed,” Barbato says.

Marisa Elizondo, VP, Content Strategy & Acquisition, fuboTV, says that while fuboTV has embraced the FAST model over the past year, their concern has been focused on creating new value for users that helps fuboTV stand out from competitors, while also maintaining the offerings that helped to build their business from the beginning. “We’ve tried to stay true to our sports roots,” she says. “And we have been selective about what comes on the platform and what comes off the platform.”

Elizondo highlights their recent launch of some Trusted Media Brands channels, and how two of them are sports-related, even if they’re not traditional “sports” programming per se, such as a show like FailArmy. “You know, a fail is a fail,” she says. “People are doing it on a skateboard and skiing, and in the ocean. And so for us, that kind of helped us stay true to our sports roots.” But the larger goal, she says, is having a good variety of content for all viewers that is not just a duplication of linear TV bundles. “I don’t think we need 20 zombie apocalypse channels,” she says. “But we are trying to have a little bit of everything, because we know most folks in our households do have families. But we are being selective because we don't want to just be a copy/paste of the traditional cable platform.”

Learn more about OTT, consolidation, and FAST at Streaming Media West 2022.

Watch full-session videos from Streaming Media Connect 2022.

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