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AI, FAST, Bundles, and More: What to Expect from Streaming This Year

All eyes were on Connected TV this past year. We’ve seen the numbers: In 2023, streaming grew to a record 38.7% of total TV usage, with CTV ad spend in the U.S. climbing to more than $24 billion.

As we look to 2024 and beyond, streaming is poised to be the entertainment destination for viewers and advertisers, with plenty of growth still ahead of us. Wurl’s CEO, Ron Gutman, predicts that within the next five years, the transition from linear TV to streaming will be complete. “Despite enormous shifts in the Connected TV space, we’re still currently only halfway through this migration. In the beginning, the focus was on moving content to streaming. The next phase as we head into 2024 will be about moving viewership,” he says.

From artificial intelligence to the continued growth of free ad-supported streaming, check out the rest of Wurl’s predictions – along with insights from our partners – for the CTV market below.

Moving forward with FAST

Free ad-supported streaming TV took center stage in conversations surrounding CTV this past year. We celebrated FAST channel launches with GLORY Kickboxing, Chess TV, and Rhett & Link’s Mythical 24/7 to name a few.

With FAST exploding in the CTV market, viewers now have access to more streaming content than ever before – a fact that will only underscore the need for streamers and publishers to ensure they’re reaching the right audiences. “More premium content is coming to FAST, which is a good thing,” says Dave Bernath, Wurl’s Vice President Sales & Partnerships, Americas. “But, the growth in overall viewership is still relatively modest and the programmatic ad market continues to disappoint. As a result, platforms, publishers, and OEMs face the difficult reality of needing to spend more on marketing during an uncertain market. I think the choice is obvious: Organic growth is not going to cut it. In 2024, we’ll see who steps up to spend the marketing dollars required to grow their audiences, and who stands pat and starts getting left behind.”

In Europe, the market is still a few paces behind, though more major entrants into FAST this year will likely serve to close that gap. “While the U.S. is witnessing the transition from traditional TV to FAST, cord cutting is less prevalent in EMEA due to the abundance of free TV content,” says Keith Bedford, General Manager of EMEA at Wurl. “Still, with top-tier broadcasters like ITV, the BBC, and Germany’s DWR/ARD making their mark in Europe’s CTV market, we’re likely to see the adoption of FAST and CTV more broadly speed up this year.”

AI will bring more personalized CTV viewing

With extraordinary advancements made in artificial intelligence this past year, we can’t talk about 2024 without mentioning AI’s impact on streaming.

Last year, we predicted that advertisers were likely to move a big percentage of their budgets from traditional brand spend to performance advertising. While streaming has traditionally been thought of as a brand awareness channel, technology like AI is enabling marketers to shift their focus to performance-driven campaigns.

“Advancements in AI-driven technologies and performance marketing solutions will give rise to more targeted and personalized CTV experiences,” Gutman predicts for the year ahead, allowing advertisers to finally leverage CTV as a true performance channel. With this, streamers and publishers will have the ability to accurately measure and attribute a viewer’s actions to a specific campaign – ultimately enabling them to transform marketing efforts from a cost center to a revenue driver.

Content is (still) king

Amid the increased adoption of FAST and advancements in AI technology, one thing remains true in streaming: content still reigns supreme as a key driver in attracting and retaining valuable audiences.

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Consumer adoption of streaming will continue to grow and channels will evolve into broader entertainment offerings along the lines of the traditional cable network model.
Robert Scanlon,

“Consumer adoption of streaming will continue to grow and channels will evolve into broader entertainment offerings along the lines of the traditional cable network model,” said Robert Scanlon, President and CEO at Speedvision. “This means there will be more diverse scheduling featuring a deep library of content, multiple recognizable franchises and personalities, and known and trusted network brands that resonate with viewers.”

Taking another page from traditional TV’s playbook, we’re also likely to see familiar aspects of the cable model continue to make their way into streaming. “2024 will see the rise of streaming services joining the legacy bundle, as evidenced by the recent Charter Disney deal. I predict we’ll see more SVODs partner with MVPDs to bundle offerings,” says Bernath. “While this represents a retreat to the wholesale model, it is likely to add some stability to subscriber counts.”

“The integration of EPGs (electronic program guides) directly into smart TVs will grow the streaming market, giving manufacturers more control and consumers easier access to discover content,” Bedford adds. “This will, in turn, create a more personalized viewing experience, and, ultimately, significant potential for ad revenue generation.”

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Niche sports, like Chess, will continue on the rise while reaching and monetizing new audiences across FAST.
Alex Kopacz,
Chess.com / Chess TV

Niche content will also play an important role in fueling FAST channel creation and viewing adoption. “Niche sports, like Chess, will continue on the rise while reaching and monetizing new audiences across FAST,” shares Alex Kopacz, Senior Content Distribution Strategist at Chess.com / Chess TV.

Of course, we can never truly predict what’s to come in the future. But, what we can see is that it’s an incredibly exciting time for the streaming industry, with opportunities like never before to reach and connect with audiences on the big screen. 2024 is promising to be a year of continued growth and change for the industry – and we can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

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