All About FAST Channels - A Guide to Getting Started

By The Zype Team on February 14, 2022

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The FAST Opportunity

You must have come across videos on demand on OTT platforms that don't monetize the viewers but make money through ads. This is known as ad-supported video on demand or AVOD. This is preferable for the users as they don't have to buy expensive subscriptions to access popular content. 

What if you could access live streaming television the same way, without having to pay for a subscription? The answer is FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming Television). The FAST market presents an opportunity for content owners to take advantage of a growing space with a rising revenue potential. According to a recent study from nScreen Media, ad revenue earned by virtual linear channels will grow from $2.1 billion in 2021 to $4.1 billion in 2023.

What is a FAST Channel?

A FAST channel is monetized through ads and is free for the viewer. In providing free ad-supported streaming TV services, it's much like a linear traditional TV channel, but for OTT and CTV platforms. 

FAST has seen rapid growth in the last few years and is extremely popular among cord-cutters. In fact, cable networks are offering these FAST channels to stay in the market and diversify their business model. FAST has gained so much popularity that, according to Seeking Alpha, the market for FAST is projected to nearly double in revenue over the next two years.

Why FAST is Gaining Popularity

There is so much live streaming content online that people are spoilt for choice. Having said that, not all content is good on every platform. There's something you would like on one channel and something else on another channel. 

If you want to watch both, you would need a subscription for both platforms where they're streaming. This will add to your cost. If there's additional live streaming content you would want to watch on a third platform, you would need a subscription for that as well. The cost would just keep adding up.

FAST is increasingly becoming the preferred choice because it frees the users from the shackles of subscriptions and enables them to view the content of their choice on multiple platforms/channels. 

How is FAST Evolving the Adoption of CTV?

CTV, or connected TV, is any TV where a digital video can be streamed, either with an external device or with the TV's built-in capabilities like that of a Smart TV. According to the Leichtman Research Group, a connected TV is found in at least 80% of all TV households. 60% of these viewers in the U.S. watch free ad-supported TV streaming services. 

FAST channels are available for all CTV devices, as well as for mobile devices, due to which they have become extremely convenient for users to watch. The channels also come pre-installed for popular smart TVs like Roku, Samsung, and LG.

Challenges With FAST

One of the biggest challenges with FAST is that if you're not careful enough, your users might get annoyed with watching the same ads over and over again. Relying on programmatic advertising can help, ensuring that different ads are shown at most times, if not every time. To create an improved advertising experience on FAST, some companies like Zype offer the ability to enable prefetch to ensure a better advertising experience. With prefetch enabled, our software makes requests for ads from the ad server in advance of ad breaks to help increase fill rates, render rates, and create a better advertising experience for customers.

Another challenge that comes with FAST can be the lack of organized data about the performance of the channels. Limited access to data can impact programming and scheduling decisions and requires a more trial and error-based approach. But don't let this discourage you. Since FAST is relatively new, the process of tracking data is still evolving. For something that's gaining so much traction, it's only a matter of time before the right tools for performance measurement are made available. When it comes to building your FAST channel, look for a partner that offers access to 1st party data and analytics so you can make smarter programming decisions for your channel based upon what your consumers are watching.

Getting Started With Your FAST Channel

As a content distributor, it may seem like an uphill task to find the right way to get started with your FAST channel's launch. But you don't need to take this headache when we're here for you. Zype's Playout 2.0 makes it easy to build and monetize FAST channels with drag-and-drop programming of on-demand videos into linear streams for distribution across broadcast and digital platforms.

To find out how you can get started building your own FAST channel today, contact us here to learn more. 

And if you want to learn more about FAST and how it's changing the industry, join our upcoming live event on March 1st "Living in the FAST Lane" featuring industry experts who will provide insights into the future of FAST and best practices to engage with viewers and increase revenue.

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