Washington Post’s TV streaming service could be ad revenue boon

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


It’s hit my radar recently that TV as an advertising medium is becoming of interest to many digital outlets — and news media companies.

For example, The Washington Post has recently launched its own FAST (free, ad supported), 24/7, TV streaming service on Freevee. (FAST channels are similar to conventional TV channels: They run continuously and have scheduled programming but are broadcast via the Web).

Check out the details here.

The Washington Post has launched FAST — free, ad supported TV streaming service.
The Washington Post has launched FAST — free, ad supported TV streaming service.

Free streaming is a boon to ad revenue

Washington Post Television is a premium free streaming service. It’s available 24 hours, seven days a week, and will, in their own words, bring “trusted journalism to new audiences — providing an additional destination for breaking news as it happens, exclusive interviews with newsmakers, and in-depth reporting from the front lines.”

Revenue is guaranteed by the FAST channel’s in-stream ads ask. When asked if advertisers are hesitant to place their brands alongside news content on a FAST channel (as they sometimes are with programmatic ads online), The Post said: “One of the more attractive things about FAST is it’s so like television, and so there is less of that worry about adjacency. You could have CNN on and be watching a serious story and there’s commercial breaks. It’s not quite like the Internet experience where it’s like, ‘I don’t want to put my ad in front of my video.’”

And The Post is not the first news publisher to enter the space. Besides The Washington Post, the other text-first news outlet to have launched a FAST channel is The Guardian, which established its service on Rakuten TV last year.

It’s all early days, but streaming service are becoming more prevalent and taking The Washington Post’s experience, maybe it’s about to a start a revolution inside news media companies? They only launched in May so we will see how well it does in due course.

Free TVs?

Also, in this streaming space, there has been a recent development which might be of interest you when in conversation with your ad clients (should that conversation turn to streaming). By showing you know what’s happening in the industry, you will be better placed to gain a trusted/knowledgeable reputation.

So, what’s the news? There have been plenty of leaked reports recently about a new way to monetise ad content. Pluto TV in the USA is strongly rumoured to be about to launch a new service, actually giving away, ad-supported TVs later this year.

Teevee Corporation, as the parent company is called, has been building a new type of TV set (branded as “Telly”) that includes a permanent second screen for advertising (as well as various information widgets). The goal is to give away a free TV and monetise it through advertising on that second screen.

As well as playing ads that can be tailored to be relevant to what’s being shown on the main (first) screen, the second screen will also display a number of widgets to show things like local weather, the latest news headlines, sports scores etc. Some of the news sources Teevee is looking to integrate into its “news ticker” include the likes of Bloomberg, CNN, and ESPN to start with. So, maybe it’s only a matter of time before you get a call?

Technically, most TVs sold today are already ad-supported in some way or another, as companies like Samsung, for example, run their own ad-supported streaming services, whilst monetising ad-supported third-party services on their platform.

One big challenge seems to be convincing advertisers they would benefit from running ads on that second screen … as opposed to just spending their money with other established digital channels.

Plus, it feels that people will either love it or reject it as a fad. It’s hard to predict, but we shall find out soon enough. Examining The Washington Post’s example above, the question is: Will this be an area of interest and a new business model for other publishers?

I shall let you know in due course, as I will be monitoring its progress.

Meanwhile, for any media houses interested in looking further, click here for more information.

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About Mark Challinor

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