FAST channel or free ad-supported television is gaining ground among a new cohort of price-sensitive, choice- and subscription-fatigued viewers. A fast-emerging viewership base and spiked growth in advertising revenues are betting in favor of FAST streaming services.
For instance, Pluto TV – a FAST channel TV – had 12 million unique monthly viewers in January 2019. By January 2022, this number increased to a whopping 64 million unique monthly users. Similarly, statistics estimate that advertising revenue through FAST streaming services will generate USD 6 billion by 2025.
FAST streaming services mirror how we traditionally watched television. As the name suggests, free ad-supported television is a linear distribution model that delivers pre-programmed content to a mass audience through connected devices.
To understand the silent factors responsible for the growth of the FAST channel model, an explicit understanding of the OTT streaming industry, FAST channel TV, and associated trends is essential.
Top OTT streaming industry trends for 2023 and how they set the stage for FAST channel TV
Since the pandemic, life has changed, as have viewer preferences. The evolving dynamics of the communication and media industries have laid the foundation of new trends playing a significant role in the OTT streaming industry landscape. A large part of this evolution will focus on FAST streaming services in 2023.
Leading drivers include:
The emergence of 5G
The proliferation of consumer 5G services will increase the OTT viewer base with increased, buffer-free streaming speeds, ultra-low latency, and improved bandwidth. But, how far this incremental consumer base will be ready to pay subscription fees to OTT streaming services remains to be seen. Old habits like the laid-back and immersive television viewing of this new 5G and streaming users may not support subscription-based, choice-heavy monetization plans.
Entry of new content players but seasoned content on OTT
Many broadcasters around the world are keenly focused on exploring the OTT space to ensure that they don’t miss the streaming bus. FAST channels lower the entry barrier to OTT for a wide variety of content owners and traditional broadcasters. They can even enter the streaming market with archived content, an easy foot in the door. As a result, archived content will become a new source of revenue for these players.
Subscription fatigue among OTT viewers
Statistics reveal that viewers are becoming increasingly price sensitive. Inflation, shrinking wallets, and rising subscription costs impact their subscription decision directly. All these factors require OTT industry players to rethink their monetization models. It is not surprising that after taking a hit of 200000 net subscribers in Q1 of 2022, even Netflix is planning to launch its ad-based service model for price-sensitive viewers. Among many new revenue models, FAST channel TV will proliferate.
Rise of niche streaming
Niche streaming OTT services will evolve as a hot trend in 2023. A set of content publishers already cater to specific content needs of cohorts like foodies, gamers, fitness enthusiasts, fashionistas, travelers, etc. More prominent niches of viewers are also emerging within each such segment, like Keto diet lovers, outdoor lovers, and budget and luxury travelers. With the success of Crunchyroll among anime lovers, Hayu for reality TV enthusiasts, and similar channels, the time for niche streaming content is well and truly here. It will become an OTT stepping stone among niche content owners like MyOutdoorTV, which are already launching their genre-specific FAST-streaming services and establishing an authentic and loyal fan base.
User experience will dominate OTT choices
User experience will be the key, even in ad-based monetization models. Major OTT platforms like Netflix have set a high bar, becoming a universal standard for smaller, regional content players and FAST channel TV to match. In addition, viewers now demand an improved immersive television-like viewing experience with discovery minutes in streaming. These trends lend themselves to more number of and more engagement on FAST channel TV.
These trends and developments will shape a sharp rise in FAST channels. Lets’ see how.
How FAST channels are the future of streaming
FAST channels can change the game for OTT, taking it to remote corners, price-sensitive customers, and traditional broadcasters. It promises to be the driving force of the up-and-coming OTT explosion simply by removing the entry barriers for all involved.
- FAST enables archived content monetization for independent as well as large broadcaster content owners.
Older successful and popular shows can engage new viewers, attract loyal fan bases, and open new
- Nich-driven FAST channel streaming is an ideal way to build a loyal viewer base and reach hyper-accurate consumer segments for advertisers. For example, a show like X factor can attract a specific genre of advertisers, who will have a better and more direct way to reach their target audience. Better monetization and enhanced engagement will be the natural outcomes. For instance, a vegan recipe-based FAST TV channel will enjoy a dedicated fanbase, create monetization opportunities with vegan ingredient brands and build a close community of vegans.
- FAST streaming services offer immersive viewing experiences with less engagement with the screen. They also hold up-selling opportunities for other niche-based FAST channel TV content. This strategy helped Wurl with a 20% daily viewership increase for each of their FAST TV channels. Several FAST channel TV options will also create revenue possibilities with upselling in 2023 and beyond.
- FAST streaming services address subscription fatigue. Users are savvy. They now understand the relevance of free content. A Kantar study even found that streaming households in the US have dropped while cable-cutting has slowed down. It just proves that FAST TV channel is a force to reckon with in the OTT industry. A FAST channel costs nothing other than a basic internet subscription fee, which the user has already paid.
- 5G proliferation will bring new viewers into the OTT space looking to try streaming content. FAST channel streaming players will be a compelling foot in the door for these audiences.
- Cord cutters are a significant captive audience for advertisers. These people are very much watching content, but they have changed the platform where they consume it. This set of viewers is shifting to FAST channel streaming services for obvious reasons. Even for advertisers, FAST makes more sense. Not only are their captive audience moving to FAST channels, but FAST ads are also more measurable with the promise of improved CPMs.
- A substantial number of OTT subscribers spend valuable time browsing content. Many viewers admire immersive experiences and do not find ads all that intrusive. This viewership holds significant potential for the success of FAST channel TV.
- Obviously, each viewer now leaves digital traces of their viewing habits. This opens an opportunity for content owners to publish and examine how it works on a FAST channel. FAST can act as a great testing ground for content creators, where they air a couple of episodes of a new show and evaluate how it works. If it works, they can make it premium content and put it on AVOD/ SVOD or premium linear TV slots.
FAST channels are the future of the OTT streaming industry. FAST TV is the new linear TV, whether traditional content owners and consumers like it or not. Low entry barriers, support of 5G speeds and low latency, growth in internet penetration, rising subscription fatigue, and relevance of immersive viewing pave the way for the growth of FAST TV channels.
Cable audiences’ preference for laid-back experiences, the possibility to monetize archived content, and immense opportunities to target niche audiences collectively support the rising popularity of FAST TV, a winning content distribution strategy for content owners.
ViewLift: An ideal platform to launch your FAST channel TV
ViewLift is an end-to-end streaming global market leader with a proven record of launching FAST TV services like MyOutdoorTV. ViewLift’s FAST channel solutions are designed to help broadcasters, content owners, and anyone with an extensive content library launch their FAST channel.
ViewLift provides a seamless, efficient, and cost-effective way to launch multiple FAST channels with ease and effectiveness:
- Support of next-generation infrastructure to offer live and linear content streaming
- Vast industry network to accelerate the monetization and distribution strategies of your FAST channel TV
- Ultra-low latency, advanced DRM, and robust CMS features to kickstart your white-label FAST streaming services