The rise of FAST channels: learn everything about FAST streaming

Ed French

In the past, streaming services were seen as the future of television, offering the freedom of on-demand content and the convenience of binge-watching without any commercial breaks. However, the recent growth of FAST services has presented a new paradigm for TV viewing, with the return of linear, ad-supported, and passive channels.

Despite the initial criticism, FAST channels are rapidly gaining traction among consumers, as their popularity is increasing on various platforms. Compared to subscription-based streaming services, the FAST model provides viewers free access to linear TV channels offering pre-programmed content.

What is FAST TV?

Free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) is a service that gives users free access to pre-programmed video channels in exchange for watching advertisements during pre-determined breaks. This service is akin to conventional TV, except it is delivered via CTV (connected TV).

Users of FAST services can watch streaming content on ad-supported platforms like Pluto TV, Peacock, and Roku, which typically provide a wide range of linear channels that host pre-programmed content, such as new movies, TV shows, news channels, and reality shows. To watch a specific movie or programme on a FAST channel, viewers must tune in at a particular time and may have to endure ad interruptions, as with traditional TV viewing.

FAST TV is distinct from other video-on-demand (VOD) services, such as advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD),where viewers can access content whenever they want and are not bound by a fixed broadcast schedule. 

Why is FAST streaming important?

The broadcasting landscape has undergone significant changes in recent years. As a result, FAST TV has emerged as one of the most popular services that continue to rise in popularity for the following reasons. 

Convenient access

FAST streaming offers viewers a free and convenient way to watch various TV shows and movies. FAST services make it easy for viewers to find something to watch by providing pre-programmed content on channels organised by niche, eliminating the need to search through different streaming platforms or pay for individual movies or TV shows.


Second, FAST streaming is more affordable than traditional cable and satellite TV services. As the cost of cable and satellite subscriptions rises, an increasing number of viewers are turning to FAST services to save money while still having access to different content.

Shifting away from linear

FAST streaming is part of a broader shift towards streaming and on-demand content. As more people abandon traditional TV services, the demand for alternatives such as FAST TV has increased. This shift has also resulted in more AVOD services, enabling viewers to access the content they want to see without being bound by a fixed broadcasting schedule.

New opportunities

FAST streaming is critical because it has created new avenues for content providers and media companies to reach audiences. These companies can reach a larger audience and generate revenue from advertising by partnering with FAST services, allowing them to expand their offerings and provide more content to viewers.

The rise of FAST TV

FAST TV is a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, and its rise can be attributed to various factors, including changes in consumer behaviour, the emergence of new technology, and the evolving media landscape.

The shift in consumer behaviour towards streaming services is one of the primary drivers of the rise of FAST TV. With the introduction of on-demand video platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, consumers have grown accustomed to watching content when and where they want and on their chosen devices. This has increased demand for free, ad-supported streaming services with a diverse selection of programming.

The emergence of new technology has also contributed to the rise of FAST TV in the UK. With the increased availability of high-speed internet and the proliferation of smart TVs and streaming devices such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick, consumers can now watch streaming content on their televisions more easily.

The changing media landscape has also contributed to the rise of FAST TV in the UK. Traditional broadcasters, such as the BBC and ITV, have been forced to adapt their business models to remain relevant in the face of increased competition from streaming services. As a result, many broadcasters, such as the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, have launched their own streaming services that provide a mix of live and on-demand content. However, these services typically have limited content offerings compared to dedicated FAST TV platforms.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the growth of FAST TV in the United Kingdom. With restricted social gatherings, many have turned to TV streaming services for entertainment. This has increased demand for free, ad-supported streaming services with a diverse selection of programming and will continue to do so.

The future of FAST TV

The FAST market has experienced significant growth, leading to the emergence of over 20 FAST service providers in the US over the last three years, offering a wide variety of over 1000 channels. The UK is showing a slower trend in FAST TV adoption but is also on a growth trajectory. The future of FAST looks promising as it provides a massive opportunity for media distributors to explore new revenue streams and reach a new audience base digitally.

FAST channels provide advertisers with an excellent opportunity for three main reasons:

  1. Growth potential: Since these channels are free, available 24/7, and have no access limitations, it's easy to see how viewership will continue to grow.

  1. Higher intent and attention: The quality thematic content on FAST channels appeals to easy-to-define target groups, which can generate greater audience attention and higher intent.

  1. Personalisation: Channel operators plan to embed AI inside FAST to personalise viewing guides and add contextual advertising capabilities, increasing target audience viewership.

In recent years, the widespread availability of on-demand services has resulted in choice fatigue among consumers. As a result, viewers are now seeking a more relaxed, passive viewing experience. Additionally, consumers prefer an ad-supported format to avoid subscription charges. 

With the abundance of internet connectivity, connected TV devices dominate the market. Content providers can leverage this opportunity to align with evolving consumption habits and deliver an unparalleled scale of video content over IP.

The data indicate that FAST channels are a sustainable platform and offer an excellent opportunity for advertisers to reach their target audience across specific content or an entire channel. If advertisers haven't begun exploring FAST channels, it's time to start in 2023.

The FAST market: US vs UK

The FAST TV markets in the United States and the United Kingdom share some similarities but also have significant differences.

Regarding similarities, both markets have seen significant growth in recent years, with viewers able to choose from various services. Both markets provide free linear channels with advertisements, with popular platforms such as Pluto TV, Tubi, and Roku available in both regions.

There are, however, some significant differences between the two markets. The market in the United States is more mature and has a broader range of offerings, with more established platforms such as Hulu and Peacock offering a mix of free and subscription-based content. Furthermore, the US market has a more significant number of ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) services, which allow viewers to access content on demand without being bound by a fixed broadcast schedule.

In comparison, the UK market is still developing, with fewer established players. While platforms, such as market lader Pluto TV, are available in the UK, there are also UK-specific services such as TVPlayer, which provide a mix of free and paid content. The UK market also has advertising regulations limiting the number and length of ad breaks permitted during TV broadcasts.

How can 7th Minute support FAST broadcasters?

As a data business, 7th Minute can support FAST broadcasters by analysing the language used in TV content. 7th Minute’s handy tool, 7M Discovery, uses natural language processing (NLP) to analyse the language used in specific episodes of TV programmes, allowing broadcasters to refine their ad targeting strategies further and find a broader range of advertising opportunities. 

Therefore, 7M Discovery can provide valuable data gained from language that broadcasters can leverage in the following ways.

Data analytics: By analysing the data provided by 7th Minute, broadcasters can make informed decisions on programming, advertising, and content development to meet their viewer’s needs and preferences.

Targeted advertising: 7th Minute can package show-level data, including topic and sentiment analysis, for broadcasters. Broadcasters can then offer targeted, contextually relevent advertising segments while guaranteeing a brand safe environment.

Monetisation: Data provided by 7th Minute can assist FAST broadcasters in monetising their content by offering guidance on pricing, packaging, and distribution strategies. By leveraging data insights, 7th Minute can help broadcasters to maximise their revenue streams and optimise their business models.

If you want to enjoy the benefits mentioned above and stay ahead of the curve on the FAST streaming market, sign up for a free account with 7th Minute. Our 7M Discovery tool is self-service and very easy to use, allowing you to gain deeper insights into your TV data that you can leverage in your ad campaigns.

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