FAST Channels are Revolutionizing the Media Landscape

By Christopher Hession

A new transformative force has emerged in the world of media: FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV) channels. These channels are changing the game for advertisers and media companies, with significant amounts of ad spend forecasted to move from traditional cable and broadcast, into FAST by 2027.

Source: TV Rev

What are FAST Channels? FAST channels provide viewers with free access to a wide range of streaming content, including movies, TV shows, news, and sports. If you’ve bought a new TV in the last several years, you’ve seen how easy it is to plug them in, connect them to Wi-Fi, and instantly access viewing content.  The channels are delivered through easily accessible platforms on your Smart TV and most of the popular streaming devices (Apple TV device, Roku device, etc.). They generate revenue by delivering targeted advertising during the streaming experience a lot like a traditional linear experience, but with a digital backend.

Some well-known examples of FAST platforms include Pluto TV, Tubi, and Roku Channel (and many more!). The channels themselves can be either platform-specific or made available across a variety of platforms.

Why FAST Channels are Growing: FAST channels are rapidly gaining in popularity for a variety of reasons. First, the explosion in the number of connected devices (Smart TV’s, streaming devices, etc.) have made it easier for viewers to access streaming content through SVOD, AVOD, and FAST platforms. But unlike SVOD and AVOD which require a viewer to hunt and find something to watch, FAST platforms provide viewers with the “lean-back” experience. Viewers can access high quality “broadcast” content through an old-school channel format, including targeted and relevant advertising that can’t be skipped. With the convenience and flexibility – along with the price point – offered by these platforms,  FAST is pulling people away from cable and satellite who liked that lean-back experience.

For many, FAST channels have emerged as the ideal solution, offering a wide range of content without requiring a subscription fee.

Impact on the Advertising Landscape

The rise of FAST channels is set to revolutionize the advertising landscape for media companies in several ways:

Currently, ad loads remain fairly tight, but we expect them to rise slightly as FAST viewing normalizes into a more consistent pattern. According to an S&P Global Market Intelligence Report:

Most FAST operators have prioritized keeping ad loads in check as they look to grow their audience reach and avoid a linear TV experience that can include 10 minutes or more of ads per hour of viewing. Ad loads vary by FAST service but are typically in the range of four minutes to eight minutes of ads per hour. Respondents in the first-quarter 2022 survey that used major FAST services largely reported feeling that ad loads were reasonable, ranging from 84% of The Roku Channel users in the “reasonable” ad load camp to 77% of Pluto TV viewers.

S&P Global Market Intelligence Report

Tools for FAST Platforms

FAST channels are rapidly helping transform the content and advertising landscape for media companies, offering new opportunities to connect with audiences and maximize revenue. By strategically leveraging content, first-party data, and targeted advertising, media companies can optimize their revenues while simultaneously maximizing advertiser ROI.

Operative’s AOS platform was built to support the needs of a typical FAST provider – multi-platform products & packages, flexible currencies, linear and digital formats, and powerful workflow automation tools – all wrapped in a comprehensive open platform that can unify your entire ecosystem. With AOS, FAST providers can:

With the rapid pace of change on these platforms, it’s also imperative for platforms to have the tools in place to ensure content rights are being managed effectively. Being flexible and adaptable requires frictionless content processes.

Operative’s IBMS software provides comprehensive business management for the entire content lifecycle, simplifying content rights, ensuring flexibility, and helping maximize content value.

Here at Operative, we’re excited to partner with innovative customers paving the way for the future of media. The mix of broadcast, FAST, AVOD, SVOD, and display requires software solutions that can effectively bring together cross-platform products and packages and deliver meaningful results to advertisers, while ensuring compliance with all content rights. Operative’s AOS was designed to power the flexible, cross-platform workflows required for modern media. With comprehensive capabilities for advertising sales and order management, AOS delivers a unified approach to digital, linear, and converged advertising. IBMS integrates with AOS to deliver a single comprehensive solution for managing advertising and content workflows.

Contact us to learn more about how Operative can help with your FAST plans. And stay tuned for further analyses of the exploding FAST market in upcoming posts!


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