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FAST Forward

Growing Free Ad Supported TV (FAST)

FAST product suppliers’ (Amagi, Wurl etc.) success is to a great extent down to two things, creating a seamless digital workflow with integrated advertising, leaving content owners with simple editorial only responsibilities in pushing content directly into 3rd party FAST apps (Xumo, freevee, Pluto etc.).

Using similar editorially skilled staff to publish to both broadcast and streaming is significant, because it asks very little of studios or TV production houses on how they previously did business. This circumvents the need for any major company reorganisation, creating or hiring new job roles and defining new company processes etc., all of which are major commitments requiring considerable investment.

So pushing content into these leading 3rd party FAST aggregator services (Pluto, Plex etc.) is an easy option, but is it the best option? It's certainly not the only option.

Mounting challenges

Content owners face growing competition for limited linear channel exposure in a highly competitive listing of FAST channels. Whilst it can also be lucrative, the growing amount of FAST channels dilutes the market, threatening limited exposure for content owners and saturation for consumers. This might suggest the need to either start marketing your FAST channel and perhaps start producing new and original content to keep consumers interested (quite possibly both).

If your costs to run FAST channels through 3rd party apps start going up and your advertising income threatens to go down, it might be time to consider alternatives.

Own branded FAST streaming services

The perception is that ditching the use of using 3rd party FAST outlets (Xumo, Pluto et al.) and looking instead to create your own streaming service, is complex and expensive, and likely necessitating new roles and processes, associated company reorganisation and an expensive exercise in resourcing, marketing and promotion.

But all of this changes if you can use the same editorial staff and existing operation to in creating and running your own-branded FAST service, asking nothing new of studios or TV production houses in how they previously did business. And the upsides could be huge.

If you are going to start commissioning original content for streaming anyway (for your 3rd party FAST channels) and/or you are forced into marketing your channels (for those 3rd party FAST channels), then, if you could simply switch your marketing campaign spend to direct your consumer to your own destination, it has some significant upsides. 

The first is that, once established the advertising should command as much or more income with better margins. You can establish a much more comprehensive portfolio of linear FAST channels, with a complimentary library of FAST VOD offerings, potentially utilising a lot more (if not all) your content catalogue, generating more revenue (not just though FAST, but also potentially through subscription or PPV upselling, and sponsorship), initiating a direct relationship with consumers, and using the resultant data to innovate in offering consumers more exciting services in the future.   

This all sounds good, but only really works if the creation and operation of an own branded FAST service is as simple to run as otherwise publishing to the established, if perhaps content saturated, 3rd party FAST aggregator services.

Easel TV’s unique CMS

In uniquely providing content owners with a D2C streaming service that offers the same seamless digital workflow with pre-integrated advertising and/or payment facilities, i.e. using the same content owner editorial teams to create and publish D2C services (to the same set of consumer devices and outlets as 3rd party FAST apps are available on), we offer a tangible step to build on the success of FAST.