Free Ad-Supported Television (FAST) is a term that's swiftly gaining momentum within the media industry. It’s no surprise, as new FAST channels seem to be sprouting up almost daily, testament to the rapidly expanding sector. However, the understanding of the mechanics and strategies underlying FAST's success remains murky for many. Today, we aim to dispel the myths and shed light on how this platform works and how you can leverage it to your advantage.
The digital media and streaming landscape has undergone a tremendous evolution, with FAST driving a significant paradigm shift. As the cost of subscription-based platforms continues to rise, FAST has emerged as a solution offering viewers a wide array of content without the burden of subscription fees. A study by Gavin Bridge indicated a staggering 198% year-on-year increase in viewing hours on FAST platforms in Q4 of 2021, underscoring the significant shift in TV consumption patterns.
Interestingly, even with the growth of subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms, a large portion of viewers are drawn to the convenience and no-strings-attached nature of FAST. Bridge's research reveals that approximately 60% of AVOD users in the U.S. engage with FAST services, suggesting an increasing acceptance of ad-supported programming.
A review of the past 18 months highlights the significant growth in FAST. In January 2021, there were no FAST platforms hosting over 400 channels, and just one with over 300. Today, three major players boast 400+ channels, with seven hitting the 300+ mark.
FAST channels offer a 'lean back' viewing experience akin to traditional TV, a welcome relief in a market flooded with content. While many AVOD offerings are subscription tiers of subscription-based services, numerous FAST platforms are entirely free and ad-supported, offering viewers a reprieve from decision fatigue. A case in point is Mometu. While it offers both on-demand (AVOD) and linear (FAST) options, the platform is completely free and doesn't even require an email sign-in, effectively removing all access barriers.
Whatever the reason, the rapid expansion of FAST suggests that this model resonates deeply with viewers.
FAST offers content distributors a way to monetize content that may otherwise be gathering digital dust in their libraries.
One of the key advantages of FAST is its use of AI technology for optimized ad placements. Unlike traditional TV, which schedules commercials at fixed intervals, FAST platforms use AI algorithms to place ads based on viewer behavior, content, and history. This strategic ad placement enhances the viewer's experience and increases the likelihood of ad engagement, thereby boosting the value proposition for advertisers. Furthermore, with a substantially shorter feedback cycle, FAST allows for a degree of experimentation that wasn't previously possible.
These ads reach your FAST channel when your partner or aggregator creates an HLS feed with your content, a protocol that facilitates seamless internet streaming. However, to create an HLS feed, your partner needs your content, most commonly delivered via an MRSS feed. MRSS, an XML-based format, enables content distribution over the internet, enhancing content discoverability. Though it's a highly technical protocol that can't be managed manually, a tech partner like MOLTEN can facilitate your content delivery via MRSS to your partners, thereby ensuring seamless revenue generation through FAST.
While FAST can offer a convenient revenue stream, it requires active management and strategy. Here are six tips from Charles Angelis and Bryan Louzil of Mometu:
1. Cast a Wide Net: To maximize profitability, it's crucial to extend your reach across multiple platforms and territories. While the US has a more established FAST market, growth is occurring worldwide. Keep an eye on the advertising market while exploring opportunities in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and beyond.
2. Treat Your Channel Like a Business: Although there are upfront costs associated with launching on FAST, consider it as an investment. Be mindful of both revenue and cost factors. This includes considering the regions you're targeting, as this can influence your potential CPM and revenue.
3. Marketing is key: Don't rely solely on the platform for promotion. Take ownership of your channel's marketing, utilizing social media and other outlets to increase visibility and audience engagement.
5. Experiment: FAST allows for a lower investment and faster turnaround time, enabling you to experiment and adjust your strategies based on feedback. This might involve changing the structure of ad breaks, showcasing specific content at particular times, or even swapping out a channel altogether.
6: Curate!: Your FAST channel's content selection plays a crucial role in its success. Seasonal channels or niche-based ones can perform particularly well. Whether you curate manually or algorithmically, the selection process is key to your channel's triumph.
FAST is a rapidly growing sector that offers substantial opportunities for content distributors. The success of this model relies heavily on understanding its mechanics and implementing strategic approaches to maximize engagement and profitability. By incorporating these insights, you can successfully navigate the world of FAST and capitalize on its expanding viewer base.
If you're interested in learning how MOLTEN is supporting distributors with easy MRSS generation, seamless delivery, consolidated rights management and more, don't hesitate to reach out! Learn more.