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The Rise of FAST Channels in TV

The Rise of FAST Channels in TV

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mediarithmics Team
May 2, 2023

The Rise of FAST Channels in TV

When TV was first accessible to the mass market, audiences couldn't get enough. We were obsessed.

Because of the limited selection of channels and shows, people around the world would tune in religiously to watch their favourite ones at specific times. 

This trend first started to change when recording became widely available (VHS, etc.), and is well and truly behind us now with the ability to watch programmes on demand from most services. Before, audiences were forced to plan their lives around a TV schedule.

What Does Media Consumption Look Like Today?

In general, media consumption as a whole looks quite different than to how it did in the 1990s.

We're no longer as grateful for televisions (often taking them for granted) and some of us have even started to move onto more convenient alternatives online.

The Evolution of Streaming Devices

When digital streaming platforms like Netflix, iPlayer, and Disney+ came into existence, everyone in the media industry was in agreement…

TV would never be the same. 

No longer would there be a sense of urgency to tune into a programme at a set time like there was before, with catch-up opportunities and replays only a few clicks away. 

But, despite initial trepidation, it soon became obvious there was still a market for live and linear TV. Why?

(Source: Marketing Charts)

Well, put simply, audiences really enjoy watching shows at the same time as each other. It gives us a sense of community, encouraging us to engage in conversations we otherwise might not be part of. 

The Development of FAST Channels

To respond to this ongoing demand for linear television, FAST channels began to form. As Forbes said best, they “combine the comfort of traditional broadcast within the streaming landscape” – making them the perfect solution for consuming media in today’s digital age.

What is a FAST Channel?

It’s free, ad-supported television that gets streamed at specific times, in a linear format. When watching media through it online, you’ll get access to a comprehensive guide that’ll inform you which shows are being played and when (much like you would on your TV).

What is the Market Potential of a FAST Channel?

By 2027, Advanced Television is estimating that FAST Channels will be producing an annual revenue of $12 billion, driven by their popularity in the United States. 

This offers an opportunity to all businesses that can’t be ignored.

With so many advertising spots available and a continuously growing audience (where 53% of all TV viewers used FAST services in October 2021), the potential to:

  1. Increase brand awareness.
  2. Showcase products and services.
  3. Communicate with dream customers.
  4. Generate profitable sales.
  5. Consistently boost your traffic.

… is almost unlimited. In short, FAST Channels promise a competitive advantage to anyone looking to stimulate growth – making them a very worthy marketing venture.

What Are The Leading FAST Channels?

The FAST Channels finding particular success already (largely in the US market) include:

  • Pluto TV (acquired by Viacom in January 2019)
  • Xumo (acquired in February 2020 and Peacock in July 2020 by Comcast)
  • Tubi (acquired in March 2020 by Fox)
  • Roku
  • Samsung TV+
  • Vizio WatchFree
  • TiVo+
  • Plex
  • Crackle 

The Difference Between AVOD and FAST Channels 

AVOD, or Advertising-Based Video On Demand, has been one of the fastest growing models in the TV space over the past 5 years. 

Like FAST Channels, they also enable users to watch TV for free — supported by advertising. Channel 4 (All4) and ITV are just two of the more widely used AVOD platforms in the UK.

The main difference between the two formats is that viewers are required to tune in to watch FAST channels at a fixed program time, whereas AVOD channels offer content on demand.

The Key Opportunities of FAST Channels

FAST Channels, which are constantly improving, ultimately allow businesses to deliver adverts at scale against a diverse audience of users interested in specific content.

What is going to differentiate one FAST channel from another from a media planning and campaign measurement perspective is one’s ability to answer the question “who’s watching”, ultimately enabling audience-led campaigns, rather than content-driven, as is currently the case.

There are challenges in achieving this, e.g. many FAST channels do not require users to log in.  Consolidating existing signals to enable data-driven advertising use cases is still possible, but will require FAST operators to fortify their tech stack with robust segmentation capabilities.

Get in touch with the mediarithmics team to find out more about tapping into the growth of FAST Channels today. We can be reached at or through our online form.

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