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Why FAST is the New Reality in Broadcasting
Do you know what FAST streaming video is or why it’s exploding at the moment? There’s a sea change happening in the streaming video landscape, with FAST leading the way. Viewers are not only cutting the cable and turning away from traditional broadcast television, but they’re also abandoning subscription-based streaming video and even ad-supported video on demand. The future is all about linear content streamed over the Internet via FAST providers.
FAST (free ad-supported streaming television) offers a cable-like viewing experience but without subscription fees.
Viewers are turning from the limited variety of broadcasts and the high price of cable to the large number of free channels on FAST services.
Viewers are also moving from multiple high-priced streaming subscriptions to free content from FAST providers.
The growth in FAST viewers is attracting advertisers aiming to reach these valuable consumers.
What is FAST Video?
FAST, an acronym for free ad-supported streaming television, offers multiple channels of linear content streamed over the Internet for free. These channels, much like traditional broadcast or cable channels, are organized by topic or genre and presented in a scrollable cable-like program guide. The programs on each channel—movies and television programs—follow a predetermined schedule. Viewers can tune into what’s playing at the moment but can’t dial up individual programs on demand.
FAST channels, like broadcast and basic cable channels, display advertising blocks throughout each program. The programming itself is free (like broadcast television) and the FAST providers make money by selling ad space.
Top 5 things to know about FAST streaming TV.
FAST content ranges from classic television shows to second-run movies to original content created specifically for streaming. Many content providers, including the big television and movie studios, are launching FAST channels on one or more FAST streaming services. For example, Pluto TV hosts several FAST channels that feature content from sister companies CBS and Paramount, such as channels for Star Trek, CSI, and The Beverly Hillbillies, as well as multiple local CBS news channels.
The content of a FAST channel can be broad (a “westerns” channel) or extremely niche, for specific programs. This results in hundreds of linear channels on many FAST services, offering more choices than even cable and satellite services.
Number of channels available on major FAST platforms
The advertising on FAST channels is similar to the ads run on broadcast or cable, but better—for both advertisers and viewers. Streaming services collect detailed viewer data, enabling advertisers to employ programmatic advertising to microtarget audiences based on demographics, behaviors, and other specific information. Advertisers can even produce ads customized for specific user groups.
For viewers, this results in more relevant advertising. The ads they encounter are tailored to their preferences, not the generic shotgun approach typical with broadcast and cable ads. That means more interested viewers and higher response rates for advertisers. In addition, most FAST services do not allow ad skipping, which further improves viewing rates.
There are a large number of FAST providers vying for eyeballs in today’s streaming market. The biggest FAST services today include:
The Roku Channel
Samsung TV Plus
Worldwide FAST channel revenues 2019-2027.
Why FAST is Replacing Traditional Broadcast TV
The trend of cable cutting has been going on for years now, but it’s picking up steam due to the availability of free linear content alternatives from FAST providers. Today’s FAST broadcasts include not only prerecorded TV and movie content but also live-streaming channels for news, sports, and weather. Viewers get more channels than broadcast offers at a lower price (free!) compared to cable.
According to Hub Research, 55% of consumers watch at least one FAST service. Most viewers expressed that they got “excellent” or “good” value from the FAST services they watched.
Why Fast is Replacing Subscription Streaming Video Services
For many years, streaming viewers have gravitated to subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix, Disney+, and Max. These services offer streaming ad-free programming on demand, but for a price—increasingly steep monthly subscription fees. As quality content disperses across multiple SVOD services, viewers confront an ever-increasing monthly streaming video bill and subscription overload.
In response, more and more viewers are canceling their SVOD subscriptions and switching to FAST services. Viewers are willing to tolerate a limited number of ads if it reduces their monthly viewing budget. They might still subscribe to one or two SVOD services, but not all of them, not anymore.
Deloitte reports that nearly 20% of SVOD viewers have dropped a paid subscription service in favor of an ad-supported service. While the SVOD market grapples with disturbingly high levels of churn, FAST providers are enjoying unprecedented growth.
Why FAST is Replacing Ad-Supported Video on Demand
Ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) has been a lower-priced alternative to SVOD streaming services. AVOD providers offer a variety of streaming content for free or at a reduced monthly fee, all supported by advertising. AVOD has been so popular that nearly all major SVOD services now offer a lower-priced ad-supported tier.
Lower-priced isn’t free, however, which gives FAST an edge. Not all viewers want on-demand content, either. The traditional linear model, where viewers scroll through a program guide and watch what’s currently airing, is tried and true. It’s a format that generations of viewers are familiar with, just as they’re accustomed to ads that accompany the programming. The switch from AVOD to FAST is an easy one—and a boon for advertisers everywhere.
The Bottom Line: FAST is the Broadcasting Future
Everything old is new again. As much as FAST resembles traditional broadcast and cable television, viewers are returning to the free ad-supported linear model—only now over the Internet instead of over the airwaves. FAST is where the growth lies in streaming video, and it’s where advertisers are turning to reach consumers. As FAST providers add new linear channels—including live programming—streaming viewers will find even more to like.
The surge in FAST viewers is attracting an increasing number of advertisers. To optimize FAST ad inventory and ad response rates, providers and advertisers alike are turning to Penthera’s 2nd Look solution. 2nd Look enables real-time ad decision-making that increases fill rates and delivers more targeted viewers. It’s the ideal way to get the most out of the FAST boom.
Contact Penthera today to learn more about FAST services and advertising.