Warner Bros. Discovery Will Make A Push Into Free Ad-Supported Television (Or FAST)

During the Warner Bros. Discovery second quarter investors call today, CEO & President of Global Streaming and Interactive JB Perrette announced that the company is exploring a free ad-supported (FAST) television option that will basically hearken back to the days of cable. Instead of being the home of premier television, the new Warner Bros. Discovery FAST option would follow in the footsteps of services like Pluto TV and Tubi.

Viewers will be able to watch shows and movies streaming on the proposed Warner Bros. Discovery FAST service for free, as long as they're comfortable watching ads as well. There will still be an ad-supported subscription, as well as a premium version without any commercials, when it comes to the forthcoming streaming service that will combine HBO Max and Discovery+, but this new FAST offering would put Warner Bros. Discovery into a different arena. Oh, and some of the content won't be available in the tiers with ads, making the FAST offering more of an entry point to paying for a streaming subscription. 

A Hail Mary for absolutely baffling decisions

On the call, Perrete explained the plan for the new FAST service: 

"Our streaming strategy has evolved over the past year and really reflects the importance of rather than the dependence on this segment of our global content monetization plans. I am pleased with the work to date, the progress we continue to make on this front and in the spirit of optimization once our SVOD service is firmly established in the market, we see real potential and are exploring the opportunity for a FAST, or free ad-supported streaming offering, that would give consumers who do not want to pay a subscription fee access to great library content, while at the same time serving as an entry point to our premium service. We will talk to you more about our potential plans at our investor day which is planned for the end of the year."

This news comes shortly after the announcement that "Batgirl" would be shelved at HBO Max, and a number of shows that had been confirmed for more seasons may no longer be safe. HBO Max seemed to be doing pretty well and is fairly beloved by viewers who appreciate its wide range of content, including shows from Adult Swim, big blockbusters like "Succession" and "Barry," and an incredible wealth of movies. The FAST plan seems to be a Hail Mary, a move for the suits to recoup some of their financial losses when people abandon the streaming service in response to these awful decisions. 

Then again, FAST options have been growing in popularity for the past couple years, especially PlutoTV and Tubi. Even Netflix has been considering an ad-supported tier, as they find themselves in dire trouble, though it wouldn't be free like those aforementioned FAST services. Considering HBO Max began as a premium streaming service, and Discovery + followed in their footsteps, this is quite a drastic shift for Warner Bros. Discovery. Then again, everything they've done this week has been drastic and ill-informed. 

Maybe Netflix finally has some real competition for being the worst-run streaming service, but at least we'll be able to watch (some of) it for free.