FAST or Linear free ad-supported streaming is booming. 2020 has been the year of FAST and this trend is going to continue in 2021 as well. Big media giants ViacomCBS and Comcast have bought Pluto TV and Xumo, respectively, and Comcast is also launching Peacock which features a FAST element.
FAST platforms are networks of channels that leverage the explosive growth of connected TVs. FAST channels are specially designed and delivered OTT channels with a linear TV like feel and appearance with varying levels of functionality. I personally feel that content owners will get more involved with FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming TV) services this year.
The growth in the FAST space has been fueled largely by consumer demand for connected TVs, according to a media research group. The survey estimated that 156.9 million smart TVs were installed in the U.S. in 2019, and it expects a combined annual growth rate of 6.5% through 2024, swelling to 214.7 million installations.
The most popular FASTs are Pluto TV (ViacomCBS), Peacock (NBCU), Xumo (NBCU), Tubi (Fox), The Roku Channel (Roku), IMDbTV (Amazon), and Samsung TV+ (Samsung).
Why Should Content Distributors Care about FAST?
FASTs are not a new concept as advertising-supported video on demand streaming has been around for years now. Recent studies have revealed that over $25 billion will be spent on ads in the AVOD space by 2025. Content distributors should care about FASTs as FAST channels extend the offering of ad-supported video content, using dynamic ad insertion technology to provide linear channels to connected devices, free of charge to anyone who wants to watch.
Another interesting point is that FASTs are distributing an amalgamation of content that one has already seen on cable TV for the last 40 years including content on older network TV series, indie movies, and online video.
How can FASTs be Constructed?
FASTs can be constructed from assets in your existing SVOD or AVOD libraries. Some channel originators are even creating channels out of short-form content that would normally be delivered over platforms like YouTube
FASTs, because of an enhanced user experience originating from more personalized content, broaden the reach of your content library and help in developing a larger subscriber. Some content providers also use their older content libraries to build niche FAST channels that act as a source of revenue as well as a medium for driving subscriptions to more premium content.
FAST and Connected Devices
FAST channels are largely consumed on connected devices, like Roku boxes, Chromecast sticks,or Samsung Smart TVs.
The growth in the FAST space has been fueled largely by consumer demand for connected TVs.The survey estimated that 156.9 million smart TVs were installed in the U.S. in 2019, and it expects a combined annual growth rate of 6.5% through 2024, swelling to 214.7 million installations.
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