Free Ad-supported Streaming TV (FAST) has captured the imagination of the entertainment industry in recent years, firmly establishing itself as a disrupter in the online streaming market.
Not too long ago, viewers were doing anything they could to get away from ads. With a strong focus on subscription video, ads were seen as a vestige of broadcast media, destined to play a bit part in the future of television. But TV is being reshaped, and the past three years has seen broadcasters and big entertainment brands moving quickly to adapt and invest in new ad-supported, on-demand video tiers to keep up with the FAST market.
And with consumers embracing these new options, it may be just a matter of time until ad-supported streaming reach achieves parity with ad-free streaming.
So, as streaming trends towards FAST, what can we expect to see in 2023?
The user experience will play a huge part in what’s to come, with quality content at the core. Gone are the days of endless scrolling. Engaged users are now looking for a seamless TV-like experience offering a curated selection of original content and exclusive channels that are easily and efficiently assessable and accessible. This is pushing the industry to build a better connected experience for all.
Investing in quality over quantity is also going to be key over the next 12 months. Content is fueling the FAST channel boom and by prioritizing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, providers will build stronger bonds with their audiences.
While FAST is well established in the USA, globally, it’s still in its infancy. However, demand for multinational channels is growing. In the US, Hispanic audiences are one of the most rapidly growing segments, with Spanish-language channels accounting for a substantial portion of FAST’s non-English offering. This is likely to drive an increase in language-specific channels, delivering content to underserved cultures and communities. Platforms are also expected to continue their effort to localize content across the globe in 2023, producing geographically diverse content for audiences.
Elsewhere we can expect to see the arrival of more international players. While European FAST services are nowhere near the scale of U.S. services, the last 12 months saw several public and commercial broadcasters across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK launch FAST channels. And while not yet booming, there is certainly a buzz within the global FAST community. Viewing habits are shifting, and seeing revenues grow among early adopters is driving momentum among savvy European content owners and service operators wanting to connect with audiences before their competitors do.
One of the biggest challenges among FAST is the lack of standardization. This absence of measurement has created a hindrance among an industry keen to share its growth. There is no doubt that free streaming viewership is on the rise, with tallied revenues showing a clear increase. But without steadfast data, it’s impossible to accurately place FAST services against, for example, traditional entertainment. In time, it is likely we will see standardization come to the FAST space, just as it has to the many digital advertising opportunities that came before it. Connecting the dots across screens, regions and inventory types will become easier, as companies continue to partner smartly for enhanced efficiencies and outcomes.
Russell Foy, CEO of Fast Channels TV, commented: “2022 saw a surge in newly launched services and channels, as early adopters rushed to join the FAST explosion. And while we can expect a continued stream of video service providers and operators entering the FAST space, this year we’re likely to see a new phase as the market trends back towards quality.
“As viewer crave constantly improved content, content owners are taking note and driving growth by adapting quickly to consumer behaviors, delivering not only vault content, but originals and exclusives, as well as live content.
“2023 is poised to be FAST’s biggest year yet, and here at FAST Channels TV we’re primed for the next stage of the FAST evolution.”
FAST Channels TV provides over 230 linear channels, with more being added each month, including, live sporting events, international news, and family entertainment, as well as genre-specific music, movies and TV spanning the last 70 years. As we continue to enhance our offering, we strive to provide strong, easily identifiable channels to keep viewers engaged and fill gaps in programming needs.
With our sophisticated white-label platform and FAST playout generation services, FAST Channels TV has been helping broadcasters, operators, and content owners to drive viewer engagement and enable monetization. Get in touch to find out how we can take your content to the next level. BCS Bureau