AVODs double down on original programming, content studios at NewFronts

Dive Brief:

  • Several ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) services announced plans for original programming at the IAB NewFronts on Monday, including Fox Entertainment’s Tubi, Amazon’s IMDb TV, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s Crackle Plus and sports-focused service fuboTV, per separate announcements.
  • Chicken Soup For The Soul, which acquired Crackle from Sony in 2020, will launch an eponymous AVOD service. The platform will be powered by the film and TV assets of Sonar Entertainment, which the company previously acquired. Separately, fuboTV announced a branded content studio for its Fubo Sports Network offering.
  • The announcements come as AVOD services have seen increased viewership and subsequent advertiser interest due to consumer behavior changes spurred by the pandemic that could become permanent.

Dive Insight:

The first day of this year’s IAB NewFronts was heavy with news from a handful of AVOD services, spanning original programming, branded content studios and new platforms, that seek to capture consumer and advertiser interest in the channel.

The proportion of consumers using an AVOD service rose from 34% in February 2020 to 58% in February 2021, according to Hub research emailed to Marketing Dive. AVODs are appealing to consumers who are facing subscription fatigue among the proliferation of subscription video on demand (SVOD) services like Netflix and Disney+, and offer advertisers opportunities for targeting and measurement in a TV-like video environment.

Tubi this fall will begin rolling out more than 140 hours of original programming, per its announcement. The service, which Fox bought for $440 million just over a year ago, saw total view time increase 54% year-over-year to nearly 800 million hours. In its pitch to advertisers, Tubi talked up the median age of its multicultural audience, data-driven offerings and “insight-led solutions.” Previously, Fox executives called Tubi a “growth engine” for the company and said it could become a billion-dollar business.

Crackle Plus, which operates the Crackle, Popcornflix and forthcoming Chicken Soup For The Soul AVODs, has doubled its content offerings in the past year. With the new AVOD, which will include both a linear free ad-supported TV (FAST) channel and an on-demand offering, seeks to tap into interest in the brand that has sold more than 1 billion self-help books worldwide.

FuboTV’s branded content studio will offer advertisers customized short- and long-form content and integrations featuring Fubo Sports Network talent. The company also announced an integration with LiveRamp that seeks to enhance its addressable targeting capabilities. FuboTV’s ad sales grew 133% year-over-year to $29 million in 2020, per an announcement.

FuboTV is not alone in creating a branded content studio. Roku in March launched a content studio that will create short-form TV programs, interactive video ads and other content on The Roku Channel, its AVOD offering. Roku is in pre-production on a celebrity-hosted talk show sponsored by a spirits brand and is developing a series of scripted vignettes for a potato chip brand, per details emailed to Marketing Dive. Roku’s NewFronts presentation brought together a handful of recent announcements, including the rebranding of its Quibi content as “Roku Originals.”

As part of its NewFronts debut, Amazon announced that its IMDb TV AVOD will feature original programming and be available as a standalone mobile app this summer. The service saw viewership surge 138% year-on-year, with nearly three-quarters of that audience in the 18 to 49 bracket.

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