• Thu. Dec 9th, 2021



Top execs of free ad-supported streaming video in 2020: AVOD, linear

  • Free, ad-supported streaming video is gaining momentum as people spend more time at home amid the pandemic and wallet-conscious consumers look for alternatives to traditional TV.
  • Business Insider is recognizing leaders who are propelling free ad-supported streaming video in 2020.
  • We are highlighting 18 power players, based on a combination of our reporting, nominations from readers, and conversations with industry experts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


2020 could well end up being known as a breakout year for free, ad-supported streaming video.

Viewership is up across the streaming industry this year as people stay home during the pandemic. Ad-supported platforms from Pluto TV to Tubi have rushed to capitalize on the trend, hoping to appeal to increasingly wallet-conscious amid the economic uncertainty.

Industry leaders say AVOD and free streaming-TV services are moving higher up in the consideration sets of publishers and advertisers, as well as consumers.

A few other things changed recently:

  • Legacy-media companies including ViacomCBS, Comcast, and Fox scooped up some of the biggest players in the sector, including Pluto TV, Xumo, Tubi, and Vudu, legitimizing the sector.
  • Cord-cutting picked up speed, driving people to look for more alternatives to traditional TV.
  • Disney, WarnerMedia and other companies launched new subscription services, and people started experimenting with free offerings to flesh out their personal collections of packages.

“Is it a watershed moment? I think it’s a massive accelerant,” said Mike O’Donnell, chief revenue officer for smart-TV maker Vizio’s platform business.

While overall ad spending is strained, eMarketer estimates the US connected-TV ad spending, which captures most AVOD ad dollars, will grow by 25% this year, because of the sharp lifts in usage amid lockdowns.

The fragmented industry’s next big hurdle will be proving that ad-supported streaming can reach mass audiences and lure ad dollars away from traditional TV.

Business Insider is recognizing 18 executives leading the rise of free ad-supported streaming video

For the second year, Business Insider is recognizing the executives who are leading the rise of free ad-supported streaming video.

These 18 power players are helping their companies navigate the evolving TV landscape and pushing ad-supported video industry forward in 2020.


We relied on our reporting, nominations from readers, and industry experts to narrow down the finalists. We chose them based on the breadth of their roles and responsibilities and their influence on company performance and the industry.

The list encompasses execs from a variety of streaming companies, including free advertisement-based-video-on-demand (AVOD) players like Tubi; ad-supported streaming-TV services like Pluto TV; device makers capitalizing on the AVOD trend like Roku and Samsung Electronics; tech companies centered on video, like TikTok and Twitch; and content owners that are strategically licensing to these platforms, like Banijay Rights.

The list does not include executives at ad-supported services that charge subscription fees like Hulu or ESPN Plus. But it does include freemium offerings like ITV Hub that offer free ad-supported tiers.

The executives are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

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