What Are FAST Channels?

FAST channels are streaming services that allow users to enjoy content for free. Usually, these services mimic a traditional linear TV experience, but they can also leverage some VOD content. In a FAST service, everything is supported by ad revenue (instead of a subscription-based model like Netflix or a hybrid model like Hulu’s subscription-and-ad-supported tier).

Consumer demand for FAST channels is rising. FAST services like Tubi and Pluto TV account for tens of millions of hours streamed each month. For content distributors, this opens up another opportunity to connect with audiences.

What Does FAST Stand for in Streaming?

FAST stands for free ad-supported streaming TV. Ad support allows content distributors to give out their content for free.

FAST channels don’t require any additional subscriptions or service bundles to enjoy. Like other streaming services, FAST channels broadcast directly to the consumer. All they need is an internet connection, and they’re ready to go.

Here are some notable examples of FAST channels:

  • Tubi
  • Pluto TV
  • XUMO
  • Vudu
  • IMDb TV
  • Peacock (free tier)
  • The Roku Channel

All these services have programming that users would normally pay for through a traditional TV service. You’ll find free content like older TV shows and movies, music videos, news stations, and sports channels, although some of these channels offer newer content as well.

What Is the Difference Between FAST and AVOD?

AVOD stands for ad-based video on demand. It’s very similar to FAST in that they’re both completely free to the end-user. And as their names imply, both services make their money through ad revenue.

So what’s the difference between AVOD and FAST?

AVOD is an on-demand service that lets you pick and choose what content you want to watch. FAST is primarily a linear television experience.

The most famous example of an AVOD platform would be YouTube. Creators put up their content, which gets monetized through ads.

Some streaming platforms incorporate both FAST and AVOD content into their service.

Take Pluto TV, for example. It has over 200 linear television channels playing continuously at any time. But it also has a large catalog of on-demand movies and TV shows to choose from.

Many other free television services take this approach. They give users the option to pick exactly what they want to watch or surf channels and accidentally stumble on their new favorite show.

Why Content Distributors Should Care About FAST Channels

Despite the rise of paid VOD services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, traditional linear television still has a place in people’s homes.

Some FAST channel services are reaching over 50 million active users. This is a huge opportunity for content distributors.

1. Reach New Audiences

FAST channel distribution can expand your reach to new audiences. Many of the services do the heavy lifting for you, bringing audiences to your channel. This is a great alternative to other AVOD platforms, where you have to do the work to bring in an audience.

2. Get Discovered by Niche Viewers

In addition to the more mainstream channels, FAST services also allow for more niche content distribution.

Your channel can be discovered more easily thanks to the channel surfing nature of these platforms. Users won’t always stay on one channel for too long and will often browse until they land on something interesting. Thanks to FAST channel switching, users can easily switch from one stream to another with very little delay.

3. Open Up a New Revenue Stream

Another great reason content distributors should care about FAST channels is the earnings potential.
Like traditional television, FAST channels can earn revenue based on the number of impressions each ad receives. In other words, the channel owner earns money based on how many people watch the ad.
When you consider that the average adult consumes nearly five and a half hours of video content each day, individual views can definitely add up.

Launching Your FAST Channel

There are so many possibilities to expand your brand, reach new audiences, and earn income with a FAST channel. But first, you’ll need a broadcast playout solution to get your content out into the world..
Interested in launching a FAST channel? Bitcentral offers broadcast and streaming solutions for content distributors. Reach out to us for help expanding your brand.