FAST is Becoming a Force in Streaming Ad Delivery

As a content delivery platform, television is an ever-evolving ecosystem. Beginning its life as a huge wooden box displaying only a limited number of simple black and white networks, the biggest consumer advancement was the invention of the remote control. Then came cable networks. The landscape began to show change. In the past 20 years, we’ve seen DVRs upend viewing patterns with time-shifted linear viewing and streaming services redefining where content could be found and how it had to be accessed.

Now it’s the FAST, Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV, channels that are the latest step in television’s delivery evolution.

FAST’s evolution is also creating ripples in the advertising ecosystem. The latest Video Marketplace Report finds 29% of ad views to overall streaming content goes to FAST channels. 50% of the ads for OTT content goes to FAST channels as well.1


Ad Views by Distribution Platform

What does this mean?

For one thing, it means that consumers recognize that the vast universe of content is expanding and the hunting ground for premium content is widening. Consumer adoption of FAST channels is good news for advertisers because it gives them more inventory to reach viewers who have proven that they’re willing to watch commercials – they’re not simply getting lost in the weeds of the big subscription streaming services.

And FAST penetration is growing – fast. According to Comcast Advertising’s F.A.S.T Report, it more than doubled from 2020 to 2021 alone.

FAST channels like Xumo mimic the traditional TV experience with an extensive list of familiar and niche live streaming content for consumers who are looking to augment their viewing choices. It’s delivered with a live channel guide that most are accustomed to, so viewers may not even realize the difference.

As consumers evaluate their financial choices, content providers have given them an avenue to find content in an alternative way. Some are direct-to-consumer as companies like Discovery give viewers the option to access their content through direct subscriptions to their proprietary content without using a distributor, typically through their own app.

Today’s landscape shows that non-authentication OTT is the leading space for consumer streaming. However, TV Everywhere or TVE (services that require a cable or satellite subscription) is still the biggest individual component of the television platform. FAST networks are finding their footing with consumers who are looking for alternative methods, but TVE remains the established source of most premium programming that viewers seek out. For lean back, familiar entertainment TVE delivers a comfortable experience viewers seek, without becoming lost in niche narrowcasting.

Interested in learning more about the evolving premium video ecosystem? Download the latest Video Marketplace Report.


1. Source: FreeWheel U.S. Video Marketplace Report 1H 2022. The Rise of Programmatic.