Amazon debuts free, ad-supported streaming channels only for Fire TV

Amazon debuts free, ad-supported streaming channels only for Fire TV

Amazon is doubling its share of free ad-supported content with today’s launch of Fire TV Channels, its new free ad-supported (FAST) video experience, coming to Fire TV devices this week. Although Fire TV previously offered FAST content, Fire TV channels are now updated throughout the day and integrated into multiple areas of the Fire TV interface, including the home screen rows, the Fire TV Free tab, and category-specific Pages dedicated to specific genres.

Additionally, Fire TV is getting a host of new FAST channels from NHL, Xbox, and TMZ, as well as a new travel category featuring content from Tastemade Travel, Rick Steves’ Europe, Travel Hacks, and soon-to-be Condé Bad Traveler. Later, Fire TV channels will also include content from the PGA.

The company explained that this Fire TV update was influenced by consumer behavior and the increasing demand for free streaming content.

“We offered some of that [FAST] Content for a while for customers – we’ve helped them discover it over time [user interface] For example, through rows of content on the “Home” or other pages,” explains Charlotte Maines, director of advertising, monetization, marketing and engagement at Fire TV. “We’ve seen them engage with it when we’ve surfaced it in an up-to-date manner … And what we’ve seen in just the last six months alone is that the monthly hours this content has streamed has increased by.” 300% increased. So we know it’s working for our customers,” she added.

The growth can be attributed to several factors, the manager said. For one, customers have reached a kind of saturation point with streaming video-on-demand offerings and have no interest in adding more subscriptions to their monthly bills, nor do they want to try to keep up with more services. In comparison, FAST channels are easy to use as users don’t need to create an account, log in, or go through any other hurdles to start watching.

With the update, the Fire TV interface will now merge all new and existing FAST content into an updated experience that provides access to a variety of categories such as news, sports, food and cooking, music videos, trailers, game videos, comedy, and more, notes Maines.

The news category includes access to both national news coverage and over 330 local news channels, including NBC’s and Telemundo’s new FAST channels, starting later this week.

These category pages can be accessed with just one click from Fire TV’s Free tab, and Amazon says more categories are “coming soon.”

The update was announced as part of Amazon’s broader NewFronts presentation, which also included updates to its free streaming service Freevee – which offers its own FAST channels. However, Freevee is accessible across platforms, including mobile and other non-Amazon media players and televisions, while Fire TV channels are exclusive to Fire TV.

The company’s offer to advertisers is that they can now directly target the Fire TV’s customer base, which typically includes Prime subscribers and younger families, through Amazon’s DSP. This allows Amazon to leverage the company’s broader advertising team and capabilities to sell ad space on Fire TV’s FAST channel.

Amazon notes that it has sold over 200 million Fire TV devices worldwide, and Amazon’s ad-supported streaming solutions now average 155 million unmatched monthly viewers, or 6 in 10 US adults

The company also cited a customer success story in which an automotive customer ran native ads on Fire TV and Fire tablets, resulting in an 11 percent increase in brand awareness and a 14 percent increase in purchase intent. Also, citing Nielsen data, Amazon said 72% of its streaming TV viewers don’t watch linear TV.

However, Amazon isn’t the only streamer offering FAST channels these days. Competitor Roku has over 350 FAST channels on its platform as of March. Google TV just announced over 800 FAST channels, and YouTube has also been experimenting with it. Plex, Warner Bros. Discovery, Tubi, and Sling TV, among others, are also pushing into this market, which has historically been led by services like Pluto TV.

The new Fire TV experience will roll out to customers this week, Amazon said. Customers can find the new content tiles from the Fire TV home screen as well as from the Fire TV Free tab. Later this summer, Fire TV will bring all of the FAST categories together with the launch of an always-on destination for Fire TV channels.

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