One of the oldest video-sharing platforms YouTube is now testing a new hub of free, ad-supported streaming channels that will show content from certain media companies, the media reported. Called FAST channels, the users who have access to the experiment in the U.S. can find these linear channels in the Movies and TV storefront.
The video platform is in discussions with entertainment companies such as A+E Networks, Cinedigm Corp., Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., and FilmRise about incorporating their shows and movies into the hub of cable-like channels, and it is testing the concept with a small number of media partners, reports The Wall Street Journal, citing sources.
“We’re always looking for new ways to provide viewers a central destination to more easily find, watch and share the content that matters most to them,” a spokeswoman was quoted as saying.
The report also mentioned that the company could launch the service more broadly later this year.
A YouTube spokesperson corroborated this, stating that “a small experiment that lets a subset of viewers watch free, ad-supported channels” is currently in progress and that it is “using it to gauge viewer interest.” The addition of free and ad-supported channels could be a big one, adding to the already large pot of revenue that the platform generates from ads.
With this hub, the platform could provide users with a larger selection of free movies and shows to watch, making it even more relevant and popular. Moreover, the feature may assist the company in competing with other free or low-cost streaming services. Although this would be new territory for YouTube, companies like Roku, Samsung, and others have offered free ad-supported TV channels through their respective platforms for some time. What could make YouTube’s experience different is that it could seamlessly offer its users easy access to a variety of other content on its platform.
While discussions are still underway, YouTube is looking to secure a 45 percent cut of the ad revenue, similar to its deal with content creators on its platform. YouTube has done quite a bit to bolster its content over the past few years, with one example being the recent multi-year deal secured to bring NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels, allowing viewers to subscribe to 30+ streaming services, including Paramount+, Showtime, Shudder, Starz, AMC+ and more, starting in 2023.
Meanwhile, Google announced that it has restructured the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) terms to include new modules such as the ‘Shorts Monetisation Module’, which allows creators to start making ad revenue on Shorts since February 1 on the video-sharing platform.
The new modules provide creators more flexibility in the ways they can earn from their content, the tech giant said on a support page. Over the next year, this change could be a huge move that puts it neck and neck with TikTok. If it manages to add free ad-supported channels to its platform, things could get even better for YouTube.