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14 October 2022

Samsung TV Plus: AVOD pioneer seeks content partners in Cannes

Ask most people what Samsung does and they’ll tell you it manufactures state-of-the-art TVs and mobile devices. But what is less well-known, for now, is that the Korean giant is also a pioneer in the fast-growing AVOD/FAST Channel sector.

By Andy Fry

SAMSUNG’s streaming platform Samsung TV Plus is currently available in 24 countries including the US, UK and Germany.

At MIPCOM CANNES, Richard Jakeman, European Head of Business Development – Smart TV, Mobile & Gaming, will explain where the service sits in the international media landscape during a session titled The Future of Distribution. One of his key messages will be that the platform is looking to do business with content owners: “We’ve been attending MIP and MIPCOM for years,” Jakeman said. “But this time we’re coming with a large team focused on achieving broader engagement with content owners. We’re looking for high-quality content that is appropriate for each of our markets.”

Jakeman points to a recent deal that saw Samsung TV Plus become the exclusive home of American Idol in the UK: “Some people might assume that AVOD and FAST are all about sweating old library content, but they’re not. We’re seeking recent, high-quality content that matches the ambition we showed with American idol.”

Samsung got into AVOD and FAST long before they became industry buzzwords. “Around five years ago we could see a trend that more and more consumers were electing not to have antennae or third-party sources connected to their TVs. For Samsung, as market leader in the smart-TV sector, that represented an opportunity for us to create a content service that is complementary to the pay-TV and SVOD services available in the market. Through a Samsung smart TV, users can access all those paid-for services, but now they have our free service sitting alongside.”

With the swift growth of AVOD and FAST over the last 18-24 months, Samsung’s decision to target the ad-supported space looks shrewd. “I think the economic situation has cemented a realisation that AVOD and FAST are important options for consumers,” Jakeman said. “Today, the Samsung TV Plus offer consists of a number of distinct elements. There is AVOD content, our own, owned-and-operated FAST channels and third-party FAST channels. Because of our reach, we also carry services that people might think of as competitors, such as Rakuten and Pluto TV. For owners of Samsung TVs and devices, this represents a broad array of content they don't have to pay for.”

For rights holders interested in working with Samsung TV Plus, there are distinct models. “They might want to launch their own FAST Channel, in which case we’ll come to a revenue share or inventory share arrangement,” Jakeman said. “Or they might want to license content to our channels. We have a comedy channel, for example, that shows a wide array of programming, either on an exclusive or a non-exclusive basis.” Recent FAST Channel launches in the US underline the alternative options. Halloween Movies, for example, is a Samsung owned-and-operated service featuring films including The Exorcist III and Rosemary’s Baby. And there is a channel dedicated to All3Media International crime series Midsomer Murders.

Of Samsung TV Plus’ 24 markets, 16 are in Europe, with the UK, Germany, France, Italy and DACH the priorities. In terms of key genres, Jakeman said “we’re fundamentally an entertainment service. There has been an increase in news viewing as a result of current events in the world, but scripted and unscripted entertainment is the sweet spot. That said, we have also enjoyed some success with kids and sport content – so we will discuss opportunities across genres.”

Jakeman acknowledges it is still early days for AVOD/FAST. But he said there is strong evidence it is maturing: “The fact that the subscription platforms are adding ad-supported services is an endorsement of what is happening. You then have ITV’s upcoming launch of ITVX, the rapid growth of services like Pluto – and the fact that the sector is front and centre at MIPCOM. All of this adds up to a strong indication of the direction that the market is heading; and that is good news for content owners who want to monetise a larger proportion of their catalogue.”

For now, Samsung TV Plus is only available within the Samsung ecosystem – but Jakeman said that this also includes devices. “When you consider that there are 580 million Samsung mobile devices in the market, you can see there is a huge distribution opportunity for us.” Also worth monitoring is Samsung’s roll out of Tizen, an operating system that it is licensing to third-party TV manufacturers. In theory, Jakeman said, Tizen-based TV sets could also carry Samsung TV Plus.

Samsung’s expansion into TV comes alongside a big drive into gaming. But as yet, the company is not quite ready to shout about Samsung TV Plus via above-the-line marketing channels. “We’re still building the service so we want to make sure it is the consistent high-quality offering we aspire to,” Jakeman said. “In the meantime, Samsung TV and device owners will gradually become aware of the quality available to them at no extra cost. We’re planning more deals of a similar calibre to the American Idol deal which will drive even more viewer awareness of the service.”

And just to be clear, Samsung TV Plus has a meaningful budget to spend on content. “We want to build a service that is entertaining for audiences,” Jakeman insisted. “That requires budget.”

We want to build a service that is entertaining for audiences

Samsung’s Richard Jakeman

PANEL

The Future of Distribution

Hi5 Studio

Tuesday, October 18, 10.30

About the author

ANDY FRY

Andy Fry is a freelance journalist who contributes regularly to leading TV and marketing trade magazines - MIP Daily News, Lions Magazine, Location International, Broadcast International, Worldscreen, Sport Business, C21, TBI, DTVE and many more.