Samsung TV Plus, the app that houses hundreds of free channels, could eventually make its way to other, non-Samsung TVs. That’s according to media tech reporter Janko Roettgers, who writes in his Lowpass newsletter that Samsung’s in talks to bring its streaming app to TCL TVs.
Introduced in 2015, Samsung TV Plus is a free, ad-supported streaming (FAST) service that comes preinstalled on newer Samsung TVs. The service gives viewers a way to flip through a collection of channels, much like you would with a traditional TV service.
Samsung TV Plus has a pretty strong slate of content for a free app, with Samsung adding popular shows like Top Gear, Law & Order Special Victims Unit, NCIS, and Chicago Fire last August. It also offers a range of local and nationwide news channels, along with Samsung-made channels, such as Ride or Drive and The Movie Hub. TV Plus currently has around 1,600 channels split across 24 different countries, along with 220 channels in the US.
It sounds like Samsung wants to make its TV Plus service a free-floating app
While the company has floated the idea of licensing individual channels to other TV makers, a source tells Roettgers that these talks “don’t seem to have gone anywhere.” Because of that, Samsung has instead switched gears to offering the entire TV Plus app to third-party manufacturers. Over the years, Samsung has been expanding the reach of TV Plus, and made the service available on Galaxy devices, the web, and even on select Family Hub refrigerator models.
Other TV manufacturers, including TCL, LG, and Vizio, have free streaming apps of their own, which also compete with services that aren’t tethered to specific TVs, including Paramount’s Pluto TV, NBC’s Peacock, Fox’s Tubi, Roku, and Amazon Freevee. It looks like Samsung wants to make its TV Plus service a free-floating app as well, but it’s unclear if other manufacturers will want the app on their TVs — or if the app would even be successful.
As Roettgers points out, “the success of FAST services is closely tied to the level of promotion they receive on the platform level,” such as its inclusion in the TV’s interface, or as a button on its remote. The Verge reached out to Samsung with a request for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.
In August, Samsung said TV Plus saw a 100 percent growth in consumer viewing over the past year, and that viewers streamed 3 billion hours globally. Meanwhile, a report from Deadline attests to the growth of the FAST market as a whole, as data the outlet obtained from S&P Market Intelligence indicates that the FAST market in the US was expected to bring in about $4 billion in revenue last year, and could hit nearly $9 billion by 2026.
Other companies, including Warner Bros. Discovery, are keeping a close eye on the opportunities that the FAST industry presents. Even YouTube has started testing a free ad-supported channel as a potential option for those who don’t want to pay the rising costs of streaming Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu, but also don’t want cable.
While I don’t have a Samsung TV myself, I have to say I enjoy the various free content I get to surf through on LG Channels. For me, it’s a lot less daunting to flick through channels and eventually settle on what I want to watch, rather than having to browse through the hundreds of shows laid out in front of me on Netflix or Hulu.