FAST Channels, the ability to watch Streaming TV for free entertainment, are becoming a household replacement for cord-cutting audiences, providing television experiences that viewers want.
What is FAST and how does it work?
FAST is a term that stands for Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television. It is a streaming service that offers users access to various channels and content without requiring a paid subscription. Instead, users watch ads during scheduled breaks, similar to traditional TV. FAST differs from other streaming services that either charge a monthly fee or offer limited content for free. FAST TV aims to provide a cable-like experience over the internet, with a wide range of genres and categories.
FAST Channel Distribution is crucial to the broadcaster’s success in getting your channel in front of the right audiences and filling it with the highest-yielding adverts.
Many things in life are cyclical. As the past few years have shown us, this includes how we watch TV.
Not too long ago, streaming services were lauded as the future of television because of their on-demand, binge-friendly and commercial-free formats. But the recent rise in FAST services takes us back to linear, passive and ad-supported channels. FAST channels are increasing in volume and consumer preference on platforms where they are available.
The digital transformation for broadcasters has been a rapid and challenging process, and many broadcasters were not ready for the agility and innovation required.
FAST is the future of free TV!
What Are FAST Channels?
For that unfamiliar, FAST stands for free, ad-supported television played in a linear format with a guide, similar to cable’s or satellite’s layout and guide.
Variety VIP+ cites 2020 as the year FAST took off, and the trajectory since then has been astounding. As an early provider of FAST channels, Plex has sourced data from an internal analytics dashboard analyzing billions of minutes of programming. This data shows just how rapidly it continues to advance. FAST content consumed was just 6% of the total in 2020 versus 30% of all Plex content in 2022. Over a billion minutes have been watched since January 1 of this year—the rough equivalent of 2,500 years of content if consecutively watched.
What is the Consumer Appeal of FAST channels?
FAST channels Successful broadcasting on CTV and Smart TV devices combines the comfort of traditional broadcast within the streaming landscape. Content is presented in channels where the viewer has no control over programming. In contrast, standard subscription streaming requires a viewer to find and select a program from a streaming platform actively. There is growing interest in existing content libraries, from 24/7 Friends or Top Gear programming to a channel entirely of TED Talks or a holiday classics channel.
Not only does the viewer get to passively enjoy without paying a monthly subscription fee often associated with streaming, but they also don’t have to pay a monthly cable TV bill. FAST content is free, so viewers willing to sit through ads can save money.
What This Means For The Future Of Television
Industry conversations and developments tell us that many streaming platforms will go the way of CuriosityStream, abandoning the subscription model in favour of FAST across as many platforms as possible, driving revenue on existing content libraries. The unit economics of a $5 to $10 subscription doesn’t make much sense if, on average, you are paying $50 to $75 to acquire a subscriber, and they churn out in six to nine months.
The model provides many opportunities for content providers and platforms but also challenges. Platforms are once again having to plan to program rather than letting consumers select on demand. It also assumes that consumers will continue to have an appetite for whatever content is programmed. It’s important to remember that on-demand options surged for a reason.
FAST Channel Conclusion
Consumer viewing habits have continued to develop as streaming options and models have advanced. With the rise of FAST, consumers are getting free content (via ad exposure), content providers are getting new revenue channels, and platforms are getting more content to engage users.
The landscape has undoubtedly changed when factoring in the options and content in the streaming universe—such as subscriptions that deliver original content and blockbuster movies on demand, live news or sports, and FAST channels. It will continue to do so as the rise of new options like FAST channels aims to offer consumers exactly what they want.
FAST Channels are an ideal solution for traditional broadcasters who want to transition to the streaming TV era, using their existing infrastructure or OTT playout-based FAST Channels. FAST Plus enables broadcasters to increase their return on their existing investments.
The power of FAST Plus allows broadcasters of all sizes to leverage the opportunities and additional revenue streams of streaming TV over the public internet.
FAST TV is a growing trend in the streaming industry as more users seek free and convenient ways to watch content online. Some of the most popular FAST TV services are Kapang, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Tubi, Peacock, IMDb TV, and Crackle. Each service has features and offerings, so users might want to try out different ones to find their favourite.