Cord-cutters are growing increasingly tired of paying for streaming television services. As such, there’s been a steady rise in the popularity of free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels. Customer subscriptions don't fund these properties; instead, much like linear traditional TV channels, FAST channels are free for viewers and monetized through advertising.
If you're a content provider who wants to launch a FAST channel, you need playout software to build, manage, and distribute it. Below, you'll learn how to deliver to different FAST destinations, meet their requirements, and leverage solutions like Zype to get your channel off the ground.
Why Digital Linear Is the Future of Television
There are important reasons to consider digital linear. According to TiVo's Video Trends Report, advertising video on demand (AVOD) and FAST occupied 22 percent of viewing time in the second quarter of 2022—a 12 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2021.
That same study revealed the average U.S. and Canadian adult uses almost 10 TV services. The most significant growth is with nonpaid services, up 33 percent from last year. And FAST and AVOD services took viewing time from every other TV business model.
Another survey by Hub Entertainment Research found that, in 2022’s second quarter, 55 percent of consumers said they use at least one FAST service—a 10 percent increase from the end of 2021.
FAST Distribution Destinations
If you're looking to distribute your FAST channel to over-the-top (OTT) destinations, there are a few major ones worth considering, such as:
- Local Now: Owned by The Weather Group, LLC, Local Now provides a cyclic playlist of weather, news, entertainment, sports, and lifestyle segments mixed with localized content. The content is streamed through its website and elsewhere, including Amazon Fire TV, iOS, Android, and Roku.
- Pluto TV: From Paramount Streaming, Pluto TV offers a selection of programming that comes through digital linear channels. It's designed to emulate the experience of traditional broadcast programming.
- Samsung TV Plus: Offering a mix of free streaming live TV and on-demand programming, Samsung TV Plus is available through select Samsung televisions, plus mobile devices and refrigerators. Viewers can choose from more than 200 live channels, thousands of films, and on-demand shows at no cost.
- The Roku Channel: Since 2007, the Roku Channel has been exclusive to Roku digital media players. It offers free content from Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, and many others. Once only available in the U.S., the service has since launched in the U.K. and Mexico.
- Amazon Freevee: From the world's largest online retailer, Freevee offers original and licensed programming across various platforms. Available in multiple nations, Freevee includes content from Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and MGM Studios.
Other FAST destinations include Sling TV, Plex, Xumo, Zeasn, Twitch, YouTube, Hulu Plus Live TV, and VIZIO.
What to Do Before Launching a FAST Channel
Content providers must address a few critical points before launching a FAST channel. First, a robust content library is essential. Otherwise, would-be viewers can quickly lose interest.
Second, playout software, such as Zype's Playout, is necessary. It allows you to import your video library through direct uploads, Media Really Simple Syndication (MRSS) feeds, and automatic programming interfaces (APIs), then use a drag-and-drop interface to create linear streams that cater to and engage your audience.
Finding and establishing a content distribution agreement with a FAST platform is another important point, as is delivering your channel to destinations with the correct specifications. You must also ensure you can successfully manage ad inventory and monetize your channel.
Do you want to take the next step to supercharge your FAST strategy? Download our free white paper, Into the FAST Lane: 5 Essential Tactics for Starting a FAST Channel, to discover why now is the time to capitalize on this emerging market.