- A repository of top-notch content isn’t the only thing you need to launch a FAST channel successfully. You also need powerful tools to program a wide array of VOD content into a linear channel.
- As CTV ad spending rises, it provides opportunities to grow your FAST channel’s revenue. But you can’t achieve that without at least some control of your ad inventory.
- Designing a FAST channel with great content and strategic ad breaks won’t get viewers and drive revenue if you don’t distribute it on the right platforms.
There are 30 FAST providers today ranging from Peacock to Xumo, and you can believe that number is going to grow in 2023. Free Ad-Supported TV is the hottest ticket in the Connected TV (CTV) universe with an overwhelming 92% of US households now reachable with CTV advertising. Additionally, 67% of consumers prefer some sort of ad-supported streaming content. In fact, the CTV ad spend is expected to reach $23.6 billion in the next year before reaching $32.5 billion in 2026.
READ MORE: Share of households reachable via connected TV (CTV) programmatic advertising in the United States in 1st quarter 2022 (statista)
READ MORE: Share of consumers who preferred paid ad-free vs. free ad-supported streaming content in the United States as of June 2021 (statista)
Many of these users would also be cord-cutters, who prefer to stream content but want to retain the traditional linear TV-watching experience.
FAST would seem to offer a win-win situation for content owners, publishers, and end-users alike, but before you start building and monetizing a FAST channel, there are a few building blocks to get to grips with.
Perhaps the main issue to get right is ad insertion. Since ads are the primary source of revenue for FAST channels it stands to reason as the most common challenge associated with starting one up.
“You must ensure that the channel serves a variety of ads that resonate with viewers — too many irrelevant or repetitive ads will drive viewers away from your content,” states video services and platform developer Zype, which has published a handbook, “FAST Channels: The Complete Guide for 2023,” tuned to content owners embarking on a FAST strategy.
READ IT ON AMPLIFY: FAST TV and SVOD Are “Channeling” the Cable Business Model
READ IT ON AMPLIFY: More Consumers Are Headed Into the FAST Lane
READ IT ON AMPLIFY: Diagramming the Differences: AVOD, SVOD and TVOD
If you’re distributing the FAST channel on your own OTT platform then this should be no problem: you are in control, you can customize the ad experience and you can collect first-party data — though it’s likely you will need the assistance of a tech specialist to set up the infrastructure (hello, Zype).
When distributing on other FAST services and CTV devices from Samsung TV Plus to Roku sticks or Pluto TV, you won’t have full control over the ad inventory.
“In turn that increases the risk of degrading the user experience with the same low-quality ads played repeatedly. This can cause viewers to steer clear of your channel, and your ad revenue will likely drop.”
Also, third-party platforms will claim part of your ad revenue as a commission, which will take a further toll on your revenue.
Make sure you keep these in mind when you start monetizing your channel, Zype says.
It reserves its main advice, though, for selecting the right technology on which to build your FAST channel. For Zype, most of what needs to be accomplished can be taken care of by a sophisticated playout platform (including its own, of course) and shrewd software integrations.
For instance, you can use a playout tool’s programming timeline to design your linear channel. Playout solutions can offer drag-and-drop interfaces, similar to a video editing tool, that makes it easy to create a linear 24/7 channel and insert pre- and mid-roll ad breaks. To simplify and even automate creation of programming schedules, you can schedule or loop individual videos, playlists, and programming blocks.
Some playout solutions let you insert live events just as easily as VOD content. Other plus points include the ability to collect first-party data from end users to help you analyze the performance of different content assets. APIs allow you to integrate the platform with your central data hub to learn from real-time updates about users. That, in turn, can help you optimize your FAST channel with smarter programming decisions and drive more revenue.
“While a good playout solution will provide in-depth audience data and analytics on its own, you can take things up a notch by using integrated technology partners, like IRIS.tv,” says Zype, which has such an integration.
READ MORE: Adding IRIS TV data to CTV Channels (IRIS)
“With this, you get concrete data on individual scenes in a video and use that information to improve targeting and deliver a better ad experience to users.”
Playout software also helps you overcome one of the biggest challenges of FAST — ad insertion. Most playout software offers SSAI (Server-Side Ad Insertion) tools to connect an ad server and manage ad insertion. Most playout solutions also allow you to connect to a third-party SSAI, such as Google Ads Manager or Freewheel.
According to Zype (again, promoting its own stack), some advanced playout solutions include the ability to enable prefetch to place ad calls to the server in advance for ad breaks.
“That, in turn, ensures better personalization, fill rates, and render rates. It also improves your chances of ads not getting filtered out by ad blockers. That, in turn, leads to higher revenues while taking the ad experience for end-users up a notch.”
For more tips for strategizing a FAST launch, such as being sure to localize content, head to Zype’s guide.
Next, Watch This
Currently one of the fastest-growing channels in advertising, Connected TV offers 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