OTT Video News: Week of 2/21/22

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Serendipity Now

Netflix is bringing its TikTok-like feed “Fast Laughs” to its TV apps, which has until now only been available via mobile. The feature has most likely been effective at introducing users to new (comedy) content and getting them to engage (watch, add to watchlist, share). As you can guess, Fast Laughs is all about comedy programming, however, I can see the feature ( with a new name) rolling out for all types of content.

Last week on Friday Fodder, I noted that as far as we’ve come as an industry, most OTT apps are like browsing digital versions of a Blockbuster store. We walk through the same entrance, browse the same shelves, in the same order, and most likely, unless we already know what we want to watch, our watch decisions on what to watch will be based on the following:

  1. The cover art (or thumbnail)
  2. The talent (actors, actresses, directors, etc)
  3. The synopsis

As you can imagine, there are so many gems that may go unnoticed. For me, this was Discovery’s show “Dual Survival”, which I talk about on the podcast. The biggest problem with on-demand viewing is serendipity, which is why more companies are incorporating linear viewing into their services. It’s not just about the “lean back” experience, but discovering something that might be a bit out of your comfort zone.

I’m reminded of a pre-Spotify world and shopping at used record stores that allow you to sample music before buying. FAST Laughs is really that concept but in digital form. It’s not about becoming a social platform, but rather using social-like functionality to drive engagement, which drives retention and ARPU.

The imminent Warner Bros. Discovery bundle

In what might be the last quarter as reporting as a standalone company, Discovery announced that it has hit 22 million paid streaming subs. This largely includes Discovery+ as well as international platforms including dPlay, which was replaced by Discovery+ in Europe in January 2021. David Zaslav said the goal was to compete in the streaming battle with Netflix and Disney+, but not win the spending wars once the merger with WarnerMedia goes through. Once combined, Zaslav said that Warner Bros. Discovery will one day offer a single streaming service with three “funnels”…one free, one paid with ads, and an ad-free versions. This would be very similar to Comcast’s approach with Peacock, which is crushing it right now with the free version.

But in the meantime, CNN+ is launching, but not as a new free-standing app, but rather as part of the existing CNN app. In the short-term, look for Warner Bros. Discovery to offer a bundle of HBO Max (with ads), Discovery+ (with ads), and CNN+ as a bundled offering, similar to the Disney bundle. And my guess is that if launched, this bundle will cost consumers $16.99, which is essentially giving away CNN+ (err…PartsUnknownFlix) at $0.01 per month.

YouTube is crashing the Upfronts

​​YouTube reaches more than 135 million people on CTV (in the U.S.) and accounts for over 50% of ad-supported streaming watch-time on CTV (among those 18+). If that wasn’t enough, the company is looking to bridge the linear and digital TV and squeeze even more from TV ad budgets by scheduling its annual sales event for marketers the same week as TV’s upfronts. Link

DAZN wipes debt and looks to expand into new markets

DAZN is wiping the slate clean with a $4.3 billion recapitalization from Access Industries Holdings, putting an additional $250 million into the company to expand into new markets, including sports betting, gaming, and NFTs. Link

For additional direct-to-consumer and OTT video news, insights, resources, and events, subscribe to 43Twenty CEO Kirby Grines’ The Streaming Wars newsletter, coming to your inbox every Friday.

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