Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST):

A promising future is now a profitable reality!

By V V S Nunna
Solution Sales Expert
April 4, 2023

The OTT (over the top) market is witnessing innovative and digital media transformation, which enables customers to access everything and anything in one place, a catalyst for the ever-growing consumption of content via OTT services. These changing dynamics of the communication and media industries have laid the groundwork for new trends that are playing an important role in the OTT streaming industry.

One such example is the rapid rise of Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) services and channels, which are changing the game for the OTT market. FAST allows monetization of archived content and seasonal content channels. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) can create comprehensive content offerings and scalable digital subscription services by bundling curated FAST channels. This opens the door for generating new revenue opportunities and increasing customer retention and stickiness.
All of this suggests that FAST channels have a bright future ahead, so let’s take a closer look at what they are and why they have captured the attention of CSPs, content owners and consumers.

What are FAST channels?

FAST is a relatively new method of distributing content over the internet. Content assets are programmed into linear channels with ad breaks, from which the user selects a channel to watch. The viewing experience is like watching traditional linear broadcast TV, where the viewer must tune in at a particular day and time to watch a specific program. There are two types of FAST services: platform-agnostic and platform-exclusive.

Platform agnostic FAST services are available on different devices, irrespective of the operating system, enabling viewers to use them on a platform of their choosing (any smart TV, browser, etc.). Popular examples include Pluto TV, Xumo, and Peacock.

Platform-exclusive FAST service can only be accessed from a specific operating system. So, viewers would need to purchase TVs from respective brands to access their relevant FAST services. For instance, Samsung Tizen OS channels are exclusively available on Samsung TV Plus.

Why are FAST Services winning over CSPs, content owners, advertisers, and viewers?

CSPs want lower upfront content licensing costs, more local and niche content, simpler management of technical onboarding and content provider agreements, and a quicker time-to-market for launching add-on streaming services.

Many broadcasters and content owners around the world want to enter the OTT streaming market by leveraging and monetizing their archived content, thereby creating a new revenue stream for their business. FAST channels can make this entry into the streaming market easier.

With FAST, advertisers can leverage an evolved target advertising platform for buying and selling ad inventory through an exchange. The process connects advertisers to publishers and is made possible by AI technology and machine learning. Ads are purchased and sold autonomously based upon requirements set by advertisers and are then inserted into specified ad markers in the streaming content.

Also, many viewers are tired of overly taxing screen engagement with too many choices and are instead turning to traditional linear TV for a more immersive experience. Even in ad-based monetization models, the need for personalized ads based upon viewer preference is critical to the overall user experience. All these factors are contributing to FAST channels’ unprecedented popularity amongst end-customers.

With FAST integration, OTT platforms can provide viewers with free scheduled content. This strategy can keep a portion of users who would otherwise unsubscribe. Furthermore, OTT platforms can also attract new users who previously would have been unwilling to pay for streaming content subscriptions.

How can VUBIQUITY help your FAST service launch?

We’ve already established that launching a FAST service is a great way to enter the OTT marketplace due to the low setup cost, diverse range of curated global content, and ad revenue options. So how can VUBIQUITY help make the goal a reality?

Vubiquity supports CSPs to meet their business objectives by enabling E2E FAST channel service launches, which include content licensing, content curation, metadata management, ad operations, and more, all within a cost-effective revenue share business model. Let’s get a bit more granular on the specifics:

  1. Content on the FAST channels (there are multiple approaches):
    • Vubiquity acquires the rights to distribute branded FAST channels available for playout, comprised of both regional and global channels. This is best suited for quick launches.
    • We partner with FAST playout platform vendors who stitch together our acquired VOD assets to create a channel. Because we curate the VOD assets, these channels will be unique. This is best suited where a distinct content offering is required.
    • We aggregate FAST channels from various content providers and FAST vendors, and we handle all commercial and technical onboarding. We can even provide a FAST app for CTVs and smart phones for content consumption.
    • Our powerful dashboard can help you manage channel access as well as schedule playlists and associated metadata.
  2. Trusted Tech Partner: Our technology and content expertise ensure viewers stay engaged with updated programming and channel options. And you’ll be able to dynamically insert relevant ads for viewers, ensuring a more personalized user experience with efficient content delivery.
  3. Advertising: We’ll help you monetize FAST content at no cost to consumers and generate a higher CPM from your advertising through intelligent Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI).
  4. Analytics: Our analytics capabilities examine ad performance in terms of audience, business, quality, and user engagement to increase effectiveness. This deeper knowledge enables better user retention and ad revenue growth.

In conclusion, I expect continued growth of both FAST service launches and channel options for numerous reasons. First, viewers are increasingly willing to watch advertisements in exchange for free content. Additionally, such services can be conveniently accessed from various devices, such as smart TVs. Smartphones and set-top boxes. Plus, with dynamic ad insertion, viewers receive more relevant ads based on their habits and preferences, which can significantly impact subscriber growth and retention. Lastly, CSPs can use consumption data to learn about customer usage trends, behavior patterns, and service preferences to drive greater ad revenue. So, are you ready to launch your own FAST service or channel? Then let’s talk more: