Watch the full NAB Show panel above.
- A panel of FAST channel execs — including from Fox-owned Tubi, Paramount-owned Pluto, Lionsgate, and Chicken Soup for the Soul — debated content strategy, how to utilize targeted advertising effectively, and content discoverability on the NAB Show stage.
- This is set against the backdrop of global revenues from FAST channels, which are set to reach $6.3 billion in 2023 and $12 billion by 2027.
- One executive described the FAST industry as “television on steroids.”
With revenue from Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST) channels set to exceed $10 billion by 2027 in the United States alone, there’s a lot riding on getting the go-to-market strategy right.
Executives in charge of four of the leading FAST services convened at the 2023 NAB Show to give a 360-degree overview of the sector and where it is headed.
Among them was Paramount Streaming EVP of Content Strategy and Global Partnerships Amy Kuessner; Tubi Chief Content Officer Adam Lewinson; Lionsgate President of Worldwide Television Distribution Jim Packer; and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s Chief Revenue Officer, Philippe Guelton.
“Our vision, is that the future of streaming television is going to be predominantly on demand,” Lewinson said.
Guelton described FAST as “television on steroids” adding, “there’s so much more of it that can now be surfaced. I think you really have to look at the entire Connected TV ecosystem of FAST, AVOD and VOD.”
Globally, FAST channels will generate $6.3 billion this year, according to research from Omdia. With the largest market of FAST channels, 80% of revenue is expected from the US; however, Omdia notes that the UK, Canada, and Australia are also growing strongly. In fact, the worldwide market for FAST will see revenue triple between 2022 and 2027 to reach $12 billion.
Maria Rua Aguete, senior director at Omdia, added a note of caution: when the $12 billion is viewed in the wider context of online video, “social video remains the growth story for the next five years,” she said. “FAST channels are another window to monetize content, but not the only one.”
“We’re in a transitional period and traditional linear has been in secular decline for a long time,” added Lewinson. “We’re just delivering a better solution for TV viewership and one that can heavily lean into personalization.”
The panel talked about the different demographics attracted to watch their FAST offerings.
Chicken Soup’s Guelton said, “We tremendously over index in Hispanic and African-American audience. I want to say the general market for African-American television viewing is 20%. We’re at 30% and it might be even be higher for us. We were one of first platforms to roll out an entire Hispanic offering.”
Paramount owns Pluto, one of the FAST pioneers. Kuessner said, “We’re actually a little bit more towards the 40-year olds [because] we’re because we’re so broad with classic and nostalgia programing.”
Half of Tubi’s TV’s viewers identify as multicultural and around a third of it audience is in that coveted 18-to-34 age range.
“What’s really interesting, we see this every day, and probably one of the many reasons why we’re still very heavily into VOD as opposed to FAST is so much of our audience grew up on YouTube or to some extent grew up on Netflix,” said Levinson.
“They like the on demand,” he added. “They like our personalization tools. They’re used to navigating the algorithms.”
In a wide-ranging discussion, the group touched on topics including ad volume, media buying, programming, distribution partnerships, and how consumers best navigate thousands of channels available to them.
“We look out over the next three years and try to figure out what are the shows that are going to really resonate,” said Lionsgate’s Packer. “We’ve really started to get much more tactical and strategic. Licensing is still the primary business [for us].”
All agreed that human curation was vital to build content profiles alongside an element of automation. Experimentation in channel brand and content was also part of the mix.
“It’s that whole art and science, the creative judgment that goes into the channel and then it’s rigorous data analysis,” said Kuessner.
Originals remain a very important part of the FAST ecosystem. Tubi has roughly 100 originals on its channels, “and we’re driving tremendous engagement,” Levinson said. “It’s often that original be the number one title on the platform. One of our proprietary FAST channels is called Tubi Originals.”
Pluto is taking a different approach. “We don’t necessarily see original as a must-have on our platform and that’s mainly because we’re owned by Paramount [which sends its originals to Paramount+],” said Kuessner. “We are looking, though, to get a little bit more creative in terms of how we work with Paramount+ So, for instance, we just announced that every new season that comes out on Paramount+ will debut in the entire former season on Pluto TV.”