You may have heard the expression “FAST” recently. It’s the acronym for Free Ad-supported Streaming TV, i.e. free TV channels financed by advertising on the Internet. In this article, we will explain what is a FAST channel and who are the main players on the market. We will also describe the main steps to launch a FAST channel on digital. Finally, we will give you 5 reasons why you should consider launching your own FAST channel, whether you are a media company, a content producer, or even a brand/corporate company.
What is a FAST channel?
FASTs are free, ad-supported streaming (linear) television services. These new channels can be created from existing on-demand content catalogs (VOD or SVOD), usually reorganized as content playlists or programming grids. FAST channels are often thematic and cover niche topics such as westerns, science, history, fishing or heritage cinema, etc.
There are 2 main types of FAST channels:
The media and catalog holders are often the publishers of these channels. They cover many thematic subjects (cooking, Science-Fiction, etc.) a bit like the thematic channels found on cable and satellite packages. Examples: Mystery Science Theater, NFL TV, etc.
Companies and brands are the publishers of these channels, which generally offer content related to their products, services, or values. They also broadcast premium content for which they have acquired the rights. Examples: Hallmark Movies & More.
Media giants have invested to buy popular services, and the online advertising market (AVOD) could reach 25 billion dollars by 2025. These are significant clues that FAST channels are the future of linear TV. Now, let’s see now how to launch a FAST channel.
The main steps to launch a FAST channel
The first step, once you have defined the editorial line of your TV channel, is to create programming for your channel. The easiest way is to create a playlist of video contents that will be played one after the other or in a loop (LOOP). Some tools allow you to manage more advanced programming, taking into account, for example, the daily broadcast of series at a certain time or allowing you to choose exact broadcast times (SCHEDULE).
Once your programming schedule is created, a linear streaming stream will need to be generated for broadcast: this is called the playout. This playout must then be converted into a format suitable for optimized online delivery on the web and on a variety of platforms and devices around the world. The HLS format in multi-resolution is the most used for this purpose.
Then, if you want to monetize your channel, you will also have to foresee dynamic advertising insertion, i.e: inserting advertisements at very specific or strategic places: for example between 2 contents, or within the videos (ad breaks). You will have to connect to advertising programs or agencies, such as Google Adsense or Freewheel, to fill the ad spaces reserved for this purpose. Other services exist to optimize the filling, by aggregating several agencies in order to obtain the best CPM (cost per 1000 impressions). We voluntarily do not go into details here, as we will write a dedicated article on the subject.
Finally, the most important thing is to broadcast and distribute your channel. For this, you can use solutions like OKAST allowing you to create your own streaming platform to broadcast your linear TV channel. You can also consider distributing it on existing platforms that already aggregate FAST channels like Pluto TV, Xumo, or Samsung+. The main advantage is that you benefit from the existing traffic of these large platforms; in return, the platform will take a significant share of the channel’s advertising revenues (usually between 30% and 50%).
Now that we have seen the main steps to create a FAST channel, let’s analyze why you should consider launching your own Internet streaming TV channel.
Why you should launch your FAST TV channel
We’ve listed 5 reasons why you should consider starting a FAST channel:
1/ Get the most value out of your content catalog with FAST channels
If you have a content catalog, you can make it live through a linear TV channel in streaming. This will allow you to value your contents rather than letting them “sleep” on a server or a hard disk. This will enable you to promote or showcase audiovisual works while valuing your rights holders.
2/ Increase or diversify the income from your videos
FAST channels, through ad monetization, are a way to earn revenue with your content. Whether you already have a YouTube channel or an OTT SVOD platform, you can diversify your revenues with new business models or by increasing your number of ad impressions. A FAST channel will allow you to reach new audiences and get more views on your video content.
3/ Promote your content with FAST channels
FAST channels allow you to make your content known. By creating a TV channel, which you distribute for example on Samsung+ or Pluto, you will immediately increase the number of people in contact with your videos since these services already gather hundreds of millions of users.
4/ Thematic channels will always find a passionate audience
The cord-cutting phenomenon (i.e. viewers unsubscribing from their expensive cable TV subscription), suggests a migration from traditional TV to new streaming content offers, starting with FAST channels. These thematic channels always attract many enthusiasts who will be willing to accept advertising in exchange for access to video content they particularly like. Cable TV has grown thanks to thematic channels, then FAST channels will probably be the television of the future.
5/ FAST channels are a great marketing tool for promotion & engagement
FAST channels can also be a “loss leader” for your other products and services. For example, if you already have a platform offering VOD content or a paid streaming app, offering a free linear channel can help you generate promotion and engagement for your content and generate subscriptions. If you are a company offering products or services, offering quality content can help you sell them (if you are not convinced, check out this article.
If you are a content distributor or content creator and you are thinking of launching your own FAST channel, OKAST can help you. We provide an all-in-one solution to create FAST channels, monetize them and broadcast them on your own platform. Contact us to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org.