Amazon releases ad-supported free streaming channels only for Fire TV

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Amazon is doubling down on free ad-supported content with the introduction of Fire TV Channels today, and a new, free, ad-supported video experience (FAST) coming to Fire TV devices this week. While Fire TV previously delivered FAST content, Fire TV channels will now be continuously updated throughout the day and consolidated into several areas across the Fire TV interface, including home screen rows, and within Fire TV’s Free tab Pages dedicated to specific genres.

In addition, Fire TV is gaining a host of new FAST channels from the NHL, Xbox, and TMZ, as well as a new travel category featuring content from Tastemade Travel, “Rick Steves’ Europe,” “Travel Hacks,” and soon, Condé Nast Traveler. Later, Fire TV Channels will also include content from the PGA.

The company explained that the Fire TV update was informed by customer behavior and the growing demand for free streaming content.

“We’ve been offering some of this (quick) content for some time to clients – we’ve helped them discover it across the (user interface) by having rows of content for example all over the ‘home’ or other pages,” explains Charlotte Maines, Director of Advertising, Monetization, Marketing and Engagement for Fire TV. “We’ve seen they deal with it when we show it in an objective way… And what we’ve seen in the last six months alone is that the monthly hours streamed for that content have increased by 300%. So we know it works for our customers.”

The executive said the growth can be attributed to several factors. First, customers have reached a kind of saturation with video-on-demand streaming offerings and have no interest in adding more subscriptions to their monthly bills, nor do they want to try to keep up with any other services. In comparison, FAST Channels is easy to use because users don’t have to create an account, log in, or jump through any other episodes to start watching.

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

The News category includes access to both national news coverage as well as over 330 local news channels, including later this week, FAST new channels from NBC and Telemundo.

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

The update was announced as part of Amazon’s broader NewFronts offering, which also included updates to its Freevee streaming service – which offers FAST channels of its own. But Freevee can be accessed across platforms, including mobile devices and other media players and non-Amazon TVs, while Fire TV channels are exclusive to Fire TV.

The company’s offering to advertisers is that they can now target Fire TV’s customer base directly, which tends to include 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 to the FAST channel on Fire TV.

Amazon notes that it has sold more than 200 million Fire TV devices globally and that Amazon’s ad-supported streaming solutions now reach an average of 155 million viewers per month unrefined, or 6 in 10 adults in the US.

The company also cited a customer success story where a car customer ran native ads on Fire TV and Fire TV, which resulted in an 11% increase in brand awareness and a 14% increase in purchase intent. Additionally, citing Nielsen data, Amazon said that 72% of streaming TV viewers don’t watch linear TV.

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

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

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