Samsung is looking to bring its free TV streaming app to other TVs

Mike Wheatley

Samsung Electronics is holding talks with other TV brands about bringing its free TV streaming service, Samsung TV Plus, to third-party TV platforms.


The news was first revealed by tech reported Janko Roettgers in the Lowpass newsletter, who said Samsung is talking to a number of TV manufacturers, including TCL.

Launched in 2015, Samsung TV Plus is a free, ad-supported streaming (FAST) service that’s pre-installed on most new Samsung TVs. It’s a kind of TV-guide styled app that offers a collection of free-to-watch TV channels.

Unlike a lot of other free content services, Samsung TV Plus offers a fairly decent slate of content with shows including Top Gear, Law & Order Special Victims Unit, NCIS, and Chicago Fire among its offerings. It also shows various local and national news channels, plus some of Samsung’s own channels like Ride or Drive and The Movie Hub. Altogether, it offers more than 1,600 channels, though the exact availability depends on the country you’re tuning in from. In the U.S., for example, it offers 220 channels.

The fact Samsung is holding talks with other TV makers suggests that it’s looking to transform the service into a free-floating TV app. Initially, the plan was to license individual channels to TV makers, but according to Roettgers, those talks “don’t seem to have gone anywhere”. So instead, Samsung is now floating the idea of bringing the entire app to third-party TVs. The company has expanded availability of Samsung TV Plus over the years, bringing it to Galaxy smartphones and tablets, the internet and even some Family Hub refrigerators.

Of course, TV brands such as TCL, LG Electronics and Vizio all have free streaming apps of their own. In addition, there are plenty of free streaming apps not tied to any specific TV platform, such as Tubi, Plex, Peacock, Pluto, Roku and Amazon Freevee. Samsung clearly wants to compete with those services, but it’s not clear if other TV makers will be receptive to its plans.

That said, one thing that is clear is that free TV streaming apps are growing fast at a time when paid streaming services such as Netflix are struggling to attract new and retain existing subscribers. In August, Samsung revealed that TV Plus grew 100% in consumer viewing over the past year, with viewers streaming a combined three billion hours of content globally. A report from Deadline also attests to the growth of FAST streaming services, noting that the segment was likely to achieve $4 billion in revenue in 2022, rising to $9 billion by 2026.

Samsung clearly wants a piece of those ad-based revenues, and as Roettgers notes, the success of individual FAST platforms depends on the “level of promotion they receive” at the platform level. By that, he means the app’s inclusion in the TV’s interface, or as a dedicated button on the remote.

Content producers such as Warner Bros. are also believed to be keeping an eye on the growth of FAST streaming services. Recently, YouTube began testing a free, ad-supported service, aimed at those who don’t want cable and aren’t interested in subscribing to premium apps like Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu.