FAST TV
Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST TV) is a streaming service that provides free access to TV shows, movies, and video content in exchange for watching ads in between scheduled breaks. FAST TV content can be streamed with internet connection instead of cable or satellite TV.

What is FAST TV? 

With FAST TV, users can stream linear TV programs, movies, and other video content for free using the internet. These platforms generate revenue by incorporating ads into the streaming experience, typically through short ad breaks in between a video. These ads are the main source of monetization for FAST TV providers. Like traditional TV, FAST TV airs pre-programmed shows with fixed schedules and breaks. Yet, the main benefit is that users are offered numerous channels that they can flip through to stream the one they prefer, and these channels operate 24/7, so anyone can access it at any point in time of the day. 

These services are often accessible through connected TV (CTV) devices like smart TVs. Pluto TV, Tubi, Peacock, and Samsung TV Plus are some examples of popular FAST TV providers. 

Types of FAST services 

Platform agnostic vs. platform exclusive

  • Platform agnostic FAST services allow users to access the FASTs on various devices including smartphone, browser, or smart TV. Peacock, Xumo, Roku, and Pluto TV are platform agnostic. 
  • Platform exclusive services are only accessible on a designated and compatible operating system. LG Channels and Samsung TV Plus are platform exclusive and require users to purchase their respective smart TV sets. 

Pure vs. premium

  • Pure FAST services provide linear programs for free with scheduled ads. 
  • Premium FAST services offer alternative premium options like pay-per-view or subscription plans that users can sign up for in exchange for removing ads. 

Syndicated vs. branded

  • Syndicated channels are themed channels designed and operated within the FAST TV service. These channels are used to classify video content into a defined category, such as SciFi, Horror, or Romance. 
  • Branded channels are channels categorized by brand names and operated by the owners of the video content. Warner Bros. Movies, Disney Movies, and Hallmark Movies all count as branded channels.

Rise of FAST TV 

FAST TV takes an interesting stance as it includes elements from both traditional TV and OTT streaming providers. Yet, the fact that no subscription is required, channels are always on, and is easily accessible through the internet makes FAST TV an extremely viable option and has rapidly boosted its popularity in recent years. Also, the fact that shows are pre-programmed and automatically played serves as a convenience for users as it takes away the hassle of deliberating what show to watch next. 

While TV subscription numbers are plummeting, smart TV companies have been leveraging this trend and adding FAST TVs to their devices, luring in the wave of customers transitioning from cable TVs. Because some FAST TVs are platform exclusive, Samsung and LG both introduced a proprietary FAST TV service called Samsung TV Plus and LG Channels aiming to increase smart TV sales. More OTT providers like Netflix are taking this path and adding FAST variations to subscription options and introducing cheap, ad-included plans.

FAST TV vs. AVOD

FAST TV and advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) are similar in the sense that they provide free online video content in exchange for ads. Both rely on selling ad inventory and publishing ads to generate revenue in exchange for offering free content. The main difference between the two models is that AVODs provide on-demand content where users have the freedom to search for any title at any time to view the content, whereas FAST TV follows a fixed schedule.

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