The rise of Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms brought a gradual downfall of linear TVs over the past decade. Consumers can watch their favorite content, on-demand and ad-free for an affordable subscription fee. This growing popularity of OTT content paved the way for many large media houses to build their own OTT platforms and monetize their content with different monetization models. But the multitude of OTT platforms led to subscription fatigue among consumers who are now willing to watch ad-supported content if it’s free.
According to Statista, as of Nov 22, there are 217mn ad-supported OTT video users in the US. Another report indicates that the most prominent FAST services Peacock, Roku Channel, and Pluto TV make up 50% of the adult viewers. The Samsung TV Plus viewership consists of 37% of daily watchers of FAST channels among adults between 18-64.
What is FAST?
FAST is a Free Ad-supported Streaming TV service that enables viewers to watch 24X7 scheduled linear content for free. One can perceive it as a no-cost, high-quality alternative to cable TV. Imagine using a cable TV with no fee or strings (literally!) attached, that’s FAST for you!
Does it sound familiar?
FAST Vs. AVOD
Yes, FAST has a few similarities with AVOD or Ad-based Video on Demand. Both these monetization models show ad-supported content and offer users a means to stream content for free. But there are aspects in which they differ as well:
- FAST platforms host linear channels that deliver scheduled programming to a mass audience on a one-to-many basis. AVOD platforms, on the other hand, offer a library of content that a user can choose to stream anytime!
- FAST can support both scheduled programming as well as Live content streaming. AVOD, by definition, is restricted to VOD.
- While FAST is more inclined towards mass marketing, in an AVOD setting, personalized advertising works best.
- FAST cannot be a part of a hybrid monetization strategy as, by definition, it is free of cost. However, AVOD can co-exist with other monetization models in a hybrid revenue model.
Why is FAST becoming a popular alternative for OTT brands and consumers?
There are many reasons why FAST is changing the OTT landscape. Some of them are listed below:
- It’s free: One of the biggest reasons why FAST is rapidly growing is that it offers ad-supported content for free. So viewers can watch their favorite shows on Android, iOS, Apple TV, Xbox 360, Samsung Smart TVs, Chromecast or Roku devices without paying any subscription fee.
- No subscription fatigue: Customers often find it financially and mentally challenging to keep up with all the OTT subscriptions to watch their favorite content. With no such strings attached, FAST provides hassle-free access to the content.
- FAST is 24X7 programmed: Streaming providers can create channels and program content on FAST. They can schedule or ‘control’ when and what content to stream on these channels for their viewers and bring in a larger audience in the prime-time slot.
- Cable 2.0: FAST mimics traditional Cable TV setup over the internet. Many reckon it as the second coming of cable TV. This similarity with cable TV would propel high acceptance of FAST in the days to come. With an always-on (‘don’t-make-me-think’) mode and high-quality content delivery, users can enjoy a delightful viewing experience.
How can brands take advantage of FAST?
Any brand deciding to join the FAST bandwagon can do so by adopting FAST channels in the following ways:
- Upsell existing services: FAST can complement the existing services and aid in upselling. For example, streaming service providers can present a season or couple of episodes of a famous TV show run in prime time for free on its FAST app and offer a subscription in a separate SVOD app for users to continue watching. Or they can run live news feeds for free and provide pre-recorded content at a premium.
- Increase addressable market: FAST provides an opportunity to increase the addressable market or expand the customer base by adding a new free offering to an existing portfolio of paid streaming services.
- Extend shelf life of content: One of the challenges for any media house or brand is to maximize the shelf life of the content it owns. Content whose shelf life is nearing an end in the existing paid service or a popular old show from the library can be made available on the FAST service and increase the revenue generated from the asset.
- Channel creation and programming: FAST service providers can create channels for exclusive content or partner with brands and media houses that can tap into their archives and present niche content for the users. They can also build a broadcast schedule to bring in a larger audience in the prime-time slot.
- Single-series channels: YouTubers (video entrepreneurs) and media houses owning popular TV series like ‘Friends’ or ‘MasterChef’ can quickly spin up a FAST single-series channel that can offer a new revenue stream.
With no strings or subscriptions attached, FAST is rapidly emerging as a go-to consumption model for users across the globe. For content distributors, FAST helps to deliver 24X7 scheduled programming, increase the addressable market by complementing the content strategies and ensure a positive impact on the revenue. Media companies and streaming providers would be wise to embark on the FAST journey at the earliest to leverage all the capabilities FAST has to offer and lead the next revolution in OTT that is fast approaching.