FAST Channels: The Growth Trajectory

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12 February 2024

Free ad-supported television is witnessing significant expansion, as evidenced by recent data. In the third quarter of this year, the percentage of U.S. households embracing ad-supported streaming surged to 41% (according to mediapost.com), a notable uptick from 31% in the first quarter of 2023. What distinguishes FAST channels is their inherent appeal to consumers, particularly during periods of economic uncertainty, where the attraction of complimentary content remains strong.

Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television (FAST) presents an OTT delivery model where viewers get content without charges, thanks to advertising support. FAST platforms boast a diverse array of TV shows, movies, news broadcasts, and other content available for streaming via the internet, all without requiring a subscription fee. You can learn more about this term and its details in our article about FAST CTV advertising.

This consumer-centric model has fostered widespread acceptance across different age demographics, highlighting its popularity and accessibility. Moreover, the influence of FAST channels extends beyond entertainment, significantly impacting the dissemination and longevity of local news content.

However, advertisers must navigate the landscape of brand safety when engaging with FAST channels. Notably, not all inventory on these channels is equal quality, particularly concerning media buying strategies such as programmatic purchasing or transactions on open exchanges. Marketers need to consider these nuances when strategizing their advertising campaigns.

FAST in Trends & Numbers

To understand how rapidly the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) market is developing, it is worth looking at a few facts according to Statista’s global data and business intelligence platform publication:

  • In 2024, the FAST market anticipates achieving a revenue of US$9.06 billion, with an expected increase to US$11.83 billion by 2027. 
  • This revenue projection’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR 2024-2027) is 9.30%.
  • Analysts predict the United States will generate the highest revenue in 2024, amounting to US$7,752.00 million
  • The projected average revenue per user for 2024 is US$9.01.
  • By 2027, the FAST market anticipates reaching 1.1 billion users. 
  • Analysts anticipate the user penetration rate, estimated at 13.0% in 2024, will rise to 13.8% by 2027.

What are the FAST’s Prospects?

As early as 2027, FAST channels can expect to reach nearly $12 billion in revenue (advanced-television.com). But what does this mean for marketers and content producers? This forecast signals a significant shift in viewing habits, with audiences increasingly favoring free, ad-supported content. This trend offers a golden opportunity for marketers to connect with diverse demographics, especially cord-cutters and millennials.

Advertisers should tailor their campaigns to popular content genres on FAST channels, such as classic TV shows and movies, to effectively engage these viewers. Key to success is the selection of ad formats, with pre-roll ads boasting strong completion rates and mid-roll ads keeping viewers engaged. While interactive ads are less common, they can significantly enhance engagement.

Marketers must also consider user behavior, including viewing times and multi-screen interactions, to optimize the impact of their ads. By understanding and capitalizing on these dynamics, advertisers can make the most of the burgeoning opportunities within the FAST market.

The anticipated growth in the FAST channel market, valued at almost $4 billion in 2022 and primarily dominated by the US, is poised to expand significantly. By 2027, English-speaking nations such as the US, UK, and Canada will represent three of the top five individual FAST markets. However, countries like Canada, Germany, and Brazil, ranked third, fourth, and fifth, will present substantial opportunities for non-English content in the mainstream FAST sector. The UK and Canada, benefiting from a considerable overflow of content from the US, are projected to host FAST markets exceeding $500 million and $300 million, respectively, by 2027.

Some Popular FAST Channels

Tubi, a Fox-owned company, seamlessly blends video-on-demand and TV channels within its free, ad-supported platform, boasting over 200,000 films and TV show episodes. With nearly 250 FAST channels, Tubi captivates audiences, counting over 74 million active users as of September.

Amazon’s Freevee mirrors Tubi’s approach, delivering originals, on-demand titles, and over 100 live channels, accessible with or without a Prime membership.

XUMO offers a wide array of live and on-demand content, including news, sports, and entertainment channels. XUMO is a popular choice for FAST streaming enthusiasts with a user-friendly interface and seamless integration across devices.

Under Paramount’s umbrella, Pluto TV emulates linear TV, hosting 24/7 channels alongside on-demand movies and TV series accessible across computers, TVs, and other devices.

IMDb TV, an Amazon-owned platform, offers a curated collection of movies and TV shows, including IMDb originals and popular titles from various genres. With its integration into the IMDb app and website, IMDb TV provides users easy access to free, ad-supported content.

Roku Channel consolidates the FAST spectrum, offering free on-demand content and 400 live channels. Available on Roku devices in the US, Canada, and Mexico, users can also access it via the app or web browser, though linear channels are currently unavailable in the UK.

Crackle is powered by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and features a mix of original programming, Hollywood movies, and classic TV shows. Crackle provides users with hours of free entertainment with a straightforward interface and no subscription fees.

 

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