- Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) is gaining popularity as a new linear distribution model that delivers pre-programmed content to a mass audience via connected devices.
- More than half of TV viewers in the US (58%) are watching FAST services, up from 40% in 020 and 48% in 2021.
- The FAST market in the US is projected to reach $4.1 billion in 2023.
- Pluto TV, Tubi, and The Roku Channel are among the best known FAST channels; Google recently added Pluto TV channels to the Google/Android live guide and is introducing a FAST offering on YouTube.
READ MORE: FAST 101: A complete guide to thriving in the Free Ad-supported Streaming TV world (Amagi)
Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) is all the rage. It’s the new linear distribution model that delivers pre-programmed content to a mass audience via connected devices. According to Julia Stoll, a research expert for Statista, more than half of TV viewers in the US (58%) are watching FAST services, growing from 40% in 2020 and 48% in 2021.
nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon shares from a new report that the FAST market in the US is projected to be around $4 billion in 2023. Pluto TV, Tubi, and The Roku Channel are among the best known, but even Google has jumped on the FAST wagon by adding Pluto TV channels to the Google/Android live guide and introducing YouTube’s own FAST offering.
FAST has become a major force in the APAC region where solutions developer Amagi charts a phenomenal YoY growth of 320% in total hours of viewing and a staggering 891% YoY growth in ad impressions across FAST channels.
“What the data tells us is loud and clear,” Amagi writes. “Now is the time to build your presence across FAST platforms with broadcast grade linear channels. Now is the time to reach the growing global audience base for FAST. Now is the time to tap into the increasing ad revenues generated across this space. And if you already have a presence here, now is when you must shift gears to strengthen your brand.”
Its white paper, “FAST 101: A complete guide to thriving in the Free Ad-supported Streaming TV world,” is a guide to FAST — how to build and monetize the right one.
What makes the FAST model different from AVOD (Advertising-supported Video on Demand) is the linear content distribution. In simpler terms, a FAST channel is like a traditional TV channel that has fixed programming, schedules, and advertising. On the other hand, the AVOD model, apart from being ad-based, lets viewers choose what they want to watch in an on-demand manner.
The reasons for its popularity? Aside from being free, Amagi contends that FAST channels offer better content discoverability.
“When you opt for a video/music streaming service, all you are looking for is entertainment. While AVOD and SVOD services offer a lot of options to choose from, we no longer seem to want just that,” the report says. “All we want is a fuss-free viewing experience. Since FAST channels offer content in a pre-programmed, linear fashion, all we have to do is watch. FAST platforms, therefore, offer much better content discoverability compared to its AVOD & SVOD competitors.”
Another reason is the growing base of Connected TVs (CTV) in the home which is indirectly helping pave the way for FAST as well. Smart TV makers, like Samsung and LG, are increasingly offering inbuilt FAST channels, thus helping the free ad-supported model gain more popularity.
If you look at this trend in terms of numbers, the global CTV market is estimated to be around $107.82 million and is expected to hit $115.8 million by 2028. “Proof that some big milestones are in store for the CTV and FAST businesses,” Amagi comments.
FAST channels (and to be clear, you won’t find consumers who actually know what FAST means) are perceived to be synonymous with content choices across a wide spectrum of genres.
Apart from licensing movies and series from media houses and companies, many FAST players are also actively engaging in creating some original content. According to The Roku Channel, the top 10 most watched programs on their channel from May 20 to June 3 in 2022 were all originals.
Moreover, “FAST content typically encompasses pieces that you won’t find on a traditional broadcasting channel,” Amagi explains. “Old content archives that no longer look like a source of revenue can be repurposed effectively using FAST channels. This content can be utilized in different formats, thus opening up new revenue streams.”
Plus, like in the name, there’s advertising. The greater the audience, the greater the monetization potential.
The report poses the questions: “If you go by the traditional approach, you can monetize your content by syndicating it via a TV broadcaster. But is that enough? Does this do justice to your rich content catalog? The answer is no.
“While traditional broadcasting limits your horizons, FAST platforms provide you the opportunity to monetize your content in new and innovative ways. You can repurpose your old content in different formats that is otherwise yielding very little monetarily.”
FAST enables a content provider to serve the best live, linear and VOD content and to hook up with an advertising platform to monetize those channels using the power of Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) technology.
Amagi suggests: “To further get better monetization results, you can experiment with some innovative ad formats” such as contextual video ads, graphic overlay ads, and dynamic brand insertion. “They are non-intrusive, more relevant to the content being presented and account for an overall enhanced and seamless experience for the end viewers.”
Advertising on CTV is highly driven by numbers and metrics, a large pool of data that is further dissected and thoroughly analyzed — to understand what is working and what is not — works in favor of content owners, platforms, and advertisers.
Next, Listen to This
Currently one of the fastest-growing channels in advertising, Connected TV apps such as Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and Apple TV offer a highly effective way for brands to reach their target audience. Learn the basics and stay on top of the biggest trends in CTV with fresh insights hand-picked from the NAB Amplify archives:
- Connected TV Takes Over the World
- Connected TV Is the New TV, and That’s Where We Are
- FAST TV and SVOD Are “Channeling” the Cable Business Model
- More Consumers Are Headed Into the FAST Lane
- SVOD vs. AVOD Today, All Connected TV Tomorrow
- Ways Pay TV Operators Can Win the SVOD Game