Everything You Need to Know About FAST

Dmitrii Sidorov

Dmitrii Sidorov

Head of Media & Entertainment Technologies

Media & Entertainment
Nov 18, 2022
Lesedauer: 5 Min.
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Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, XUMO, Pluto TV, Peacock, and IMDb are some of the most speedily growing FAST channels. The renowned names associated with them, such as Samsung, Roku, NBCUniversal, and others speak of their potential and promising future. These channels are free to watch, being interspersed with advertisements and providing a combination of a linear and on-demand streaming experience. Read on to understand the FAST channel meaning and learn more about the things to look at when establishing a FAST channel.

What are FAST channels?

What are FAST channels in detail?

The FAST channel definition includes free ad-supported streaming TV that enables users to watch free of cost streaming content alternated with advertisements. These are typically skippable and non-skippable ads of different durations, for example, fifteen seconds, thirty seconds, etc. Such channels consist mainly of video-on-demand content presented either in a linear or on-demand format for a connected TV. This gives connected TV manufacturers the opportunity to ensure a streaming experience directly through the interface and with no apps involved.

Linear channels run on various devices and/or channel aggregators called FAST platforms. They include, among others, Samsung TV Plus, Peacock, LG TV, Roku, XUMO, etc. Some channels can run only on one platform, while others are available on two or more of them. Users log into them to select and view FAST channels of their preference.

FAST channels have various content from old movies and TV shows to modern streaming content. However, there might soon be an explosion of niche content, including eLearning, fitness, faith-based channels, and so on, as companies are exploring new use cases around FAST.

Difference between FAST and AVOD

One may wonder what the difference between FAST and AVOD (Advertising-based Video on Demand ) is. The latter is exclusively on-demand streaming, whereas FAST can have either an on-demand or a linear format. Another difference is that FAST channels can include both Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) and AVOD content and insert ads on the fly to provide free linear channels on a connected TV.

A FAST channel can include content of different durations and types to ensure a tailored experience for its viewers. Even its ads are extremely personalized as they are dynamically selected. The ad server can be fed user information such as their devices, location, time, age, gender, etc., and the more information that is fed to it, the more targeted the ads are.

The channels can be leveraged to bring more users to a premium offering while earning additional revenue through dynamic ads. Think of it as a way of giving a free trial to users who then consume some content free of cost which drives them to subscribe to a premium pack by using the content itself as the main hook. The possibilities for content owners are immense and the potential is huge to tap into a new segment across the globe.

The rise of FAST channels

FAST services have seen tremendous growth in the past few years in the number of channels, viewers, and viewership hours. According to the recent study of quarterly numbers by Amagi, their platform has experienced a 99% growth in the number of channels, 134% increase in ad impressions, and 103% increase in viewership hours.

Ad impressions represent the basic unit of an ad with one impression denoting one ad viewed by one person. FAST has seen an increase in ad impressions by about 16 times over the past two years.

Most adults in the USA are aware of FAST platforms and around 60% of them watch at least one channel monthly. It’s anticipated that around $25 billion will be spent on advertising in the AVOD space, of which FAST is a subset.

Among the major factors fuelling the growth of FAST, there are the high subscription costs of SVOD platforms and search fatigue. Most users all over the world are subscribed to multiple SVOD platforms and this results in a major expense. Users are also tired of searching for content every time they switch on their SVOD platforms. FAST solves these issues by allowing users to conveniently choose free channels as per their mood.

How to launch a FAST channel

FAST channel launch necessitates the use of the following key technologies:

A channel origination platform

A FAST channel comprises various video-on-demand content stitched together to create a linear channel. A channel origination platform allows you to transform individual VOD assets into a twenty-four-hour linear channel. Most of these channel origination solutions rely on cloud technology to provide a truly scalable service.

A good channel origination platform allows you not only to create a linear channel but also provides you with a scheduler with automation tools for recurring series, graphics insertion, overlays, and advertising insertion. Software development company Andersen partners with some of the best channel origination platform providers and is, therefore, in the right position to seamlessly deploy your FAST channel.

Platforms

Another important aspect of creating a FAST channel is the distribution to FAST platforms. If you are new to the streaming space, you can distribute your channel to various FAST platforms like Pluto TV, XUMO, Peacock, Samsung TV Plus, LG TV, etc. You would need a partner like Andersen who will help you not only to create a FAST channel but also distribute it to a FAST platform as this can be tedious and time-demanding. Since Andersen’s experts work with the majority of the main platforms, we’ll be happy to bundle this service as part of our offering.

Server-side ad insertion

SSAI is a tool that enables the insertion of ads into linear channels. It inserts personalized ads and stitches them with the channel’s content to provide a seamless user experience. SSAI works best with FAST channels as it allows for personalized ads to be inserted based on user profiles. This means that any two users who watch the same channel are served different ads based on their profiles, namely, the information about their location, gender, age, etc. That is how this extremely powerful tool gives FAST an advantage over traditional TV. Another advantage of ads served through SSAI is that they completely bypass ad blockers thanks to the inherent nature of how they are stitched with the content during channel origination. Andersen’s efficient SSAI tool is pre-integrated with channel origination platforms to provide a complete suite of services.

Advertising partners

There are two types of ad partners, i.e. ad servers and ad networks. These, along with the aforementioned technologies, are the key elements in FAST channel creation.

Generally, an ad server is integrated with multiple ad networks to allow as high fill rates as possible, i.e. the amount of ad inventory that gets fulfilled during a program. It’s the opposite of unfulfilled inventory within a program. Ad inventory refers to the entire ad space that is made available for sale to advertisers by the content owner.

When a FAST channel is listed on a FAST platform, the platform keeps from 30% to 40% of the generated ad revenue when bringing the ads. Platforms also bring in users and allow consumption of content on the channel, hence, the commission is to a large extent justified.

In the case of a new FAST app created for a connected TV, it is imperative to have an ad server integrated to fulfill ads on channels. Andersen has a large pool of ad server partners, such as Beachfront, FreeWheel, Google Ad Manager, SpotX, and others, to provide complete end-to-end solutions.

Conclusion

At Andersen, we not only develop apps and create FAST channels for connected TV and FAST platforms, but we also provide the needed cutting-edge technology to leverage the apps and channels and offer targeted ads. Using our vast experience, we help customers across the globe with the FAST channel launch with the highest Quality of Experience (QoE) and according to the service standards. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can add value to your streaming business.

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Dmitrii Sidorov, Head of Media & Entertainment Technologies
Dmitrii Sidorov

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