Exclusive: Pluto TV’s Olivier Jollet on FAST competition & exclusive vs original content

Paradise Hotel

Increasing competition in the FAST space will be a good thing for the market, Pluto TV’s Olivier Jollet has told TBI here at MIPTV, while sharing the streamer’s strategy of exclusive content over original content.

FAST is, once again, the talk of Cannes and Jollet, who serves as EVP & international GM of the Paramount-owned AVOD and FAST streamer, spoke to TBI ahead of tomorrow’s international FAST channel summit, FAST & Global, in which he will participate.

A full morning of panels dedicated to FAST is a far cry from the scene at the market just a few years ago when, as Jollet puts it: “When we were talking about FAST or even ad-supported streaming, nobody was really welcoming us. I think it’s come a long way now.”

Pluto TV, which launched in 2014, was an early pioneer in FAST and has now grown to encompass more than 35 markets and 79 million global users, but other major players have started to explore the space in earnest over the past couple of years, with many more services beginning to emerge worldwide.

Jollet told TBI that this new competition will be a positive thing for the market overall, helping to drive advertising investment.

“When you are alone in educating a market, it is very tough, which has been the case for ages with Pluto; we were alone in Europe, we were alone in Lat Am. The fact that more competitors are coming, explaining the value of the inventory that FAST services are creating, is something that helps to grow the overall market and convince big advertisers to shift the budget.”

FAST already has a strong foothold in the US, though Jollet believes it is “is difficult to say whether there will be consolidation” despite the 25 or so services now operating there.

He does, however, suggest that setting up in Europe might be a tougher nut to crack. “The FAST business started in the US, and it was easier to get good rights in the beginning in the US than in Europe where the rights owners were very sceptical.”

Jollet also noted that the digital advertising market is “more mature in the US, way more advanced,” but added that Europe, Lat Am and other regions are catching up quickly, with similar growth trajectories, and he expects these regions to reach the same level of maturity within the next two to three years.

Olivier Jollet

Exclusive vs original

Jollet added that exclusive content and a strong local offering are key to success in the FAST space, not necessarily original content – which Pluto currently has no plans to commission.

“What is important is to have a really strong local offering. The balance between international and local is really important. Among the international FAST players, we’re probably the one with the strongest local offering,” said Jollet.

“Pluto is not commissioning original content – but we have, depending on the content, an exclusive approach. It could be an exclusive windowing, it could be exclusive content,” explained the exec, who highlighted Viaplay reality series Paradise Hotel as a major traffic driver to the AVOD.

Series 15 launched exclusively on Pluto TV and Jollet explained: “This content made Pluto TV the most downloaded app on the app stores. We launched that a few weeks ago and since then it has been an amazing success – a lot of users tuning in every time we show a new episode, which shows the power of exclusive content.”

Another example he highlighted is Gran Hermano, Paramount-owned Telefe’s Argentine version of the Big Brother reality format, whose 24/7 companion feed generated around “150 million TV hours in the last few months” for the service in Latin America.

Jollet is confident that the FAST marketplace is strong enought to sustain original shows – should Pluto TV ever want to commission any – it’s rather a question of making the most of existing content, which can drive traffic to AVOD services, the priority.

“We are generating enough revenue to produce originals and the revenue is growing exponentially. However, there is so much great content available in the market right now, a lot of library content, and because all the SVOD services are going original, it created a lack of visibility for the library content and I think this is a pity not to use that.“

“Where the future is going I cannot tell you; I would not say we will never [create original content], but I think right now what is important is to think about how to create a destination which has a level of exclusivity [around this library content].”

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