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Report: FAST Advertising Surpasses $20 Billion in 2022; Why Are FAST Channels so Popular?

David Satin

The Golden Age of ad-supported streaming is growing more lustrous every day. Free ad-supported TV (FAST) channels continue to spread across the streaming landscape, with nearly every major service in the process of developing or launching one.

A study from earlier this year showed that FAST channels can be rapidly profitable for their operators, but a new report from global insights firm Interpret puts that profitability into focus. According to the report, ad spending on FAST channels and other connected TV sources topped $20 billion in 2022, a figure that has more than doubled since 2020.

It’s easy to see why FAST channels have become such profit machines so quickly. They’re relatively quick and easy to set up and maintain, and unlike with a linear channel, worldwide distribution is only a few clicks away for FAST operators. Owners of these channels can use them to carry older content, even dedicating whole channels to a single show in order to maximize their dollars for content that people would be less likely to watch on traditional streaming.

Providers are also seeing success in getting customers more used to ads while they stream, according to Interpret’s numbers. By keeping ad loads relatively small as compared to linear TV, and using targeted advertising tools, content providers are seeing more engagement with ads among FAST channel viewers compared to streaming customers overall.

The report from Interpret also suggests that two of the biggest-growing segments of FAST programming are news and sports, which would be bad news for linear channels. Streaming platforms have been unable to offer comprehensive alternatives to cable’s live sports and news programming, but if FAST channels continue to grow and spread that could change.

FASTs have become so powerful that not only are subscription streaming services taking notice, but equipment manufacturers are getting into the game as well. Samsung TV Plus, the FAST service operated by TV and mobile phone maker Samsung, has grown to more than 200 channels this year. It’s a perfect strategy for Samsung, which gets advertising dollars for cheap content that instantly reaches over 450 million devices.

It’s also not difficult to understand the popularity of FAST services from a consumer perspective. FAST services like Freevee or Tubi replicate the channel-flipping experience that customers are familiar with while removing the difficult decision-making process that subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms force upon them of what to watch next. It also helps that many FAST channels are programmed with familiar, comfortable series that can be viewed a la carte, rather than having to be caught up on multiple seasons to enjoy.

And of course, perhaps most importantly from the customer perspective, FASTs are free.

The FAST phenomenon isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The model is working for content providers, advertisers, and consumers, and more companies will undoubtedly be coming for a slice of that $20 billion pie in the near future.

Tubi

Tubi is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 45,000+ movies and television shows - more than any other streaming service. Fox executives have called their service “TV on steroids.”

Tubi’s programming includes films and television series from Fox Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and more.

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