Paramount has one, Universal Has One, Fox has one, Comcast has one, heck even Sinclair Broadcast Group has one. What are we talking about? We are talking about FASTS. FASTS are Free Ad-Suported-Streaming Services. And they are the future of streaming and TV. Not to say that subscription services do not also have a future. They most definitely do. But free is a very popular price and as the streaming market matures the industry is seeing the adoption of new paid services slow down and it happened decades faster than it did with the cable industry.
There is constant hand wringing about subscription fatigue, which is the idea that people are reaching the breaking point in their willingness to sign up for more subscription streaming services. This is coupled with the rise in the popularity of FASTS.
Only a few years ago Pluto TV was an independent startup company with curated YouTube channels. Now it is a key part of Paramount Inc after first being bought by Viacom. XUMO too started as an independent company with an aim to bring valuable brands together on Smart TVs and streaming platforms. Ir is now under the auspices of the largest cable provider in the US and a large part of its future as seen with its integration into the XClass TV infrastructure.
Comcast’s Peacock is also a FAST that also has a subscription tier.
Broadcast company, Sinclair, launched a FAST called STIRR that highlights content from its owned and operated diginets along with news broadcasts from Sinclair stations from around the country.
Right now Disney is on the outside looking in when it comes to this part of the TV landscape. Disney is heavily invested in premium streaming with the hugely successful Disney+, Hulu, Hulu with Live TV and ESPN+. But it has no offer on the marketplace that reaches customers who choose not to spend on content. For instance, Paramount+ has exclusive programming for a cost, but it also places selections of its content on Pluto TV where people can watch it for free and have a chance to get hooked on it. Even if they do not end up signing up for Paramount+ they may well enjoy binging content from Nickelodeon and MTV. Those Paramount-owned brands are featured heavily on the streamer and generate revenue, not through subscriptions but good old-fashioned commercials.
It’s about time Disney got into that game and there is an obvious target that would let the company do so. Chicken Soup For The Soul. While a lot of people likely associate the company with the motivational/inspirational books that have been sold for years, CSFTS has been acquiring streaming assets for some time now including former Sony venture Crackle, Popcornflix and most recently Redbox. With Redbox the company added a new group of media agreements and a FAST of its own as Redbox has both on-demand content as its own programming-based curated grid.
When Disney gets into this game it will have two choices. Start one up from the ground up or buy one. Its peers bought existing products. Doing so helps companies scale up quickly. Why? because there are already apps developed and agreements to put them on major distribution platforms like Roku, Samsung, Vizio, Apple TV etc. When a company buys something that is already established in the marketplace it doesn’t have to spend as much time and money explaining what it is that it is selling or making people learn how to say the name. I’m looking at you Cubeee oh sorry QUIBI.
Disney is capable of launching a brand new service and marketing it across its brands. But what if it just bought Chicken Soup For The Soul and at the same time claimed Crackle, Popcornflix and Redbox all at the same time. What if it not only added new library content but a live streaming infrastructure with built-in advertising partners that it could combine with its current partners who already work with Hulu and ESPN?
Buying a FAST or in this case three of them, would give Disney a way to market lesser-known titles that don’t drive subscriptions to Disney+ but could have an audience for free with ads. Would millions of people pay for a service that provided slow footage of a train traveling through Europe and episodes of Mork & Mindy? No, I don’t think so. But for free Pluto TV brings in millions of viewers.
The thing is, that not everything Disney owns is on the same level as The Avengers or Star Wars. Sure an original series based on Obi-Wan Kenobi may drive Starwars fans to the service but are they also clamoring to see The Black Hole or Davy Crocket. I mean maybe. But there is also a chance that there are people who would love to watch Davy Crocket who would not pay for Disney+ to do so but would sit through a couple of commercials targeted specifically at their age demographic and tailored to their interests. Even more so, they may even still use DVDs or Blu-ray discs. Disney has content going back to the 1930s and not all of it is something it can sell. It’s just there because Disney put pretty much everything it had available on Disney+ and for that matter Hulu.
Disney has so much content it could monetize from its archives if it decided to purchase Chicken Soup For The Soul plus it would have the content that the combined services already stream. With a combination of the content from across 20 Century Fox (now known as 20th Century) Disney, ABC, and the already established partners the offering could be very impressive. It would not only cover a growing blind spot but position the company even better as the TV ecosystem changes.
This is why we feel that a move such as this will take place. It will give Disney a brand new marketplace for its assets, a way to sell movies if it chooses, a way to market its movies and TV shows to people who prefer to watch physical media and so much more.