There is no shortage of video streaming services today. And, most of them need you to purchase monthly or yearly subscriptions.
However, it is only logical for users to pay for the privilege when they get hooked on its offerings. And that’s exactly what Samsung is doing with its streaming service. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Samsung is offering TV Plus, an ad-supported video streaming service. It offers users access to hundreds of channels covering sports, entertainment, and more. The company has kept Samsung TV Plus completely free, and no credit card details are needed to sign up (1). Yes, you heard us correctly. There is no trial period, no monthly or annual subscription.
But it is also important to note that users will have to bear ads since it is an ad-supported service.
Samsung Has Availed TV Plus to All
A lot of content we consume has shifted from conventional cable TV to a smartphone to the point that there are now several popular services that don’t have any TV alternatives. Instead, they are solely focused on the web and smartphones.
Cable TV still contains segments that appeal to certain demographics, which remain the main reason for them to avail the service separately. Samsung had realized the issue and came up with a solution for its Smart TVs in the form of Samsung TV Plus (2).
It is a free TV service for its consumers, initially in the USA and Canada, offering more than 100 TV channels for free over the internet.
Upon the first launch in 2016, Samsung TV Plus was only available to some variety of Samsung devices with access to limited channels in limited countries.
However, last Friday, reports surged (3) that Samsung expanded its streaming efforts to the web a few weeks ago. It also added the ability to cast videos to devices that support Google’s Chromecast technology to its mobile application earlier this month. Both developments highlight a major expansion for TV Plus, which was previously only available on Samsung-made Smart TVs and phones.
A Samsung spokesperson has affirmed that the company launched the web version of TV Plus in the second quarter.
With the new web expansion, TV Plus is now more directly competing with other free streaming services such as Tubi and Pluto TV. The development also demonstrates how the TV business is changing from a sole concentration on unit sales to all about ads and services revenue.
It seems like Samsung had soft-launched the web version of TV Plus, but the company has not publicly announced it. Notably, it is not even mentioned in the company’s TV Plus-related marketing materials (4).
It currently gives users in the United States to about 140 streaming channels with its lineup, including ABC News Live, ION Plus, PBS Kids, Vice, and other genre-specific Vevo channels. Anyone can access these channels, regardless of whether they have a Samsung device or not. However, some channels do need users to sign in with a free Samsung account.
Samsung had first launched TV Plus as a transactional streaming service in 2016 and later shifted to an ad-supported model which mimics the feel and looks of traditional cable. The service is strongly integrated into the programming guide of Samsung Smart TVs, allowing viewers to channel surf broadcast networks and TV Plus programming.
Undoubtedly, the model has been a hit with people. “We stream billions of minutes monthly,” said Sang Kim, Senior VP of Samsung Electronics, during a conversation with Protocol last September (5). The company also claimed that consumers had installed the service on more than 50 million smart TVs across the globe (6).
Since then, the company has brought the offering to smartphones with an application for its Galaxy devices and increased its geological reach. Today, TV Plus is available in 23 countries, including India, Mexico, Brazil, and most of Europe. Collectively, Samsung TV Plus is streaming over 1k channels globally.
Notably, Samsung is not the only device manufacturer targeting an audience on third-party devices. For instance, Roku had first rolled out its Roku Channel streaming service on its Roku-powered TVs and streaming boxes. Since then, it has also launched a dedicated smartphone app, a web app, and apps on Samsung smart TVs and devices running on Amazon’s Fire TV portal.
Its recent job openings also indicate that Roku may be aiming to launch its channel on other popular streaming media platforms in the future (7).
And Roku’s business indicates why consumer electronic businesses are willing to give up on exclusivity for wider distribution for their content services. This year, Roku’s hardware business made about 108 million USD in revenue during the initial three months, whereas its advertising and other services revenue were nearly 467 million USD.
Samsung TV Plus in India
It was late March 2021 when Samsung launched its streaming service in India.
The company kicked off the proceedings with about 27 local and international channels, including Republic, the Q, and 9XM. And at that time, the company stated that “more partners come on board soon to make the service more robust.”
Click here to see the full list of channels available in Samsung TV Plus India.
The service offers consumers to set favorite channel groups, channel lists, and progressive channel guides. It also allows users to change channel numbers and delete channels that they may not find interesting.
“Over the past year, people around the globe have been spending more time at home. Their smartphones and TVs have become the center of their lives both as a source of information and entertainment. We also realized that people now immensely value excellent media content, the reason why we choose to introduce Samsung TV Plus in India,” said Reshma Prasad Virmani, Director of Samsung India Services (8). “In the upcoming months, we expect to expand TV Plus to add more content and channels.”
The company also stated that the TV Plus service would help Samsung stay in touch with its consumers (9). It calls the new free streaming offering due to the change in people’s behavior amid the coronavirus pandemic, wherein consumers, especially Gen Z and Millennials, started exporting TV channels for more exciting and new content.
India is rapidly turning into a hotbed for OTT streaming services for growth and even experimentation. It is partly because of the surge of the smart TV market and more affordable data plans in the country. It offers massive potential.
Regardless, it would be too soon to say whether Samsung TV Plus will directly compete with Amazon Prime, Netflix, or even Sonyliv and Hotstar. Or if even Samsung is even looking to join that swarming race.
At the time of its launch, it was apparent that the service is complimentary to Samsung Smart TVs and phones. A way to offer consumers tick one more box, entice them to purchase its devices, and buy its whole ecosystem (10).
But, with Samsung now peeling off its streaming service’s exclusivity and a promise to add more channels, we have to wait and see if it can cut any ice in the Indian OTT space.
Samsung launched a web version of its free Smart TV Plus streaming service for linear and live programming. It launched the streaming product, previously limited to Samsung smartphones and Samsung smart TVs, as a web service a few weeks ago.
It is a curious new player in the streaming war and rolled out with seemingly little to no fan far. However, the launch makes the platform previously limited to Samsung users now widely available to about any users (11).
As noted, there is no clarity why the company decided to soft launch the web version of its streaming service now. As if Samsung is looking at new ways to bring a larger audience to its TV Plus. Come on, the choice is always great, but no one can beat the price of free, especially when more people can stand to sit through advertisements.
Samsung also is pretty late to the party if it is looking to dominate the linear streaming segment. However, the timing of the development is still great as more people are shifting towards OTT platforms, and many of them would appreciate the free streaming if only the company would manage to add more content to its TV Plus. Notably, there is no clarity whether Samsung will offer any exclusive content to the Indian audience.
Nonetheless, movie and TV streaming is big business at the moment. A few months back, Sony had also confirmed its streaming service in Poland as a part of PlayStation Plus, named Video Pass (12). At present, it offers a library of more than 20 movies and TV shows and would soon expand to add several more.
With Disney Plus also surpassing its subscriber target (13) and Netflix keeping on increasing its 200 million-plus worldwide subscribers (14), it is clear that online streaming is not going anywhere anytime soon.