What are the prospects for Free-Ad supported Streaming TV (FAST) channels in Central and Eastern Europe?
FAST is currently one of the hottest topics in the TV industry, with the US leading the way thanks to such services as Peacock, Tubi and Pluto TV. Indeed, S&P Global have estimated revenues from FAST in the country will rise from around $4 billion last year to just under $9 billion by 2026.
When it comes to Europe, the focus is very much on the west of the continent, with the UK leading the way. Germany, Spain, Italy and France are also in the picture, as are a handful of other markets. However, when it comes to CEE, we hear little. And what we do is probably more hype than reality.
For the sake of brevity let’s look at one country – Poland – and collate information and views from reliable industry sources. The first thing that has to be said that despite it being one of the largest and most dynamic TV markets in the whole region, it is not served by leading services such as Samsung TV+. However, that could change, perhaps as soon as later this year.
LG Channels, which is available in such West European markets as France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK, is also not present in Poland.
Should these, and other services such as Pluto TV, decide to enter the Polish market, they will have to offer localised or local content.
There is also scope for local players to offer FAST – Polsat, one of the country’s two leading commercial broadcasters, is a possible candidate.
As to FAST services that are already up and running, the free online TV service Pilot WP launched its first linear FAST channel, named Kabaret TV, jointly with Telewizja WP late last year. It sees the channel, which uses Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI), as an extension to its freemium offer and plans to launch more FAST services in the future.
Although it is clearly early days for FAST not only in Poland but the CEE region as a whole, we are likely to see dramatic changes in the course of the next one to two years.
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