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FAST has been hugely successful in sucking up vast archives of content to generate impressive advertising income. More easily enabling targeted advertising it can command ad income rates (CPM) of up to $40-$50 (according to a recent Harmonic article) and with traditional broadcast advertising rates at around $10-$25 CPM rate, it's easy to see why this is so attractive to the market.
FAST channels are also a magnet for cord-cutting consumers in the US who, once compelled to acquire this content through Pay-TV operators, now get to consume this back catalogue for free.
As compelling as those points have proved, there are aspects of the FAST phenomenon that could be better.
Perhaps the most curious one is that most of the content exists in a fixed time scheduled FAST channel, running counter to an otherwise logical trend towards convenient on-demand viewing. This harks back to forcing viewers to watch on a channel editor's timetable, rather than at the consumer's own convenience. Or coming in halfway through something of interest with, in some cases, no means to start from the beginning.
Another aspect is that the fixed linear format tends to lead to a lot of viewing not being viewed at all, just the TV being left on. If the Ads are being played out it works for the advertisers and channel owners equally, but it faces the prospect of diluting the value of the inventory over time.
Churn too is also a problem. Being free gives it the advantage over SVOD in these hard economic times, but the inconvenience and ever-growing number of FAST channels, mean it's too easy for a consumer to simply drift off somewhere else if they don't find what they want on your FAST channel at exactly that moment in time.
What's interesting is that addressing these issues might actually lead to more inventory and more opportunity.
FAST channels are going to bring an audience, the figures confirm this, so that's an opportunity. The trick here is to turn that fleeting audience into loyal viewers, i.e. the challenge is to get them to stick around.
One obvious way to do this is to give that audience somewhere to go. Use the FAST channel as more of a barker channel, an advert, to your own destination that provides a library full of every series and episode of the limited and time-constrained shows on the FAST channel and a lot more. Take them on a journey of transitory interest on FAST to a fully signed-up member of the community in your own app destination.
Think of your FAST channel as being an advert for your opportunity to earn a lot more advertising revenue in your destination venue, rather than FAST being the only source of ad revenue and end game.
To what extent you can directly promote this destination on your own FAST channel may depend upon the outlet or require some creative marketing, but there is certainly further revenue to be mined.
If you can use FAST channels to bring consumers into your own store there are many benefits to be had;
Your own destination apps can still include your linear FAST channel(s), they could also include start-on-watching linear streams that give you all the benefits of convenience on-demand viewing (in effect a SuperFAST channel), as well as the additional prospect of creating your own one-off 'live' events, and of course offering a rich library of catch-up and boxset binge viewing. In other words, a lot of different experiences for complimenting that FAST channel entry point.
At Easel TV, we provide a simple way to create and manage these destinations as a full suite of apps on streaming outlets (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, web, mobile, Smart TVs and operator set-top-boxes), and we are looking to work with FAST channel owners so that, as well as directly publishing to the usual FAST channel outlets, they can also publish directly into their own (Easel TV-powered) complimentary app destination.
With your own destination the customer relationship with the audience is yours and the beginning of a customer journey you can now take them on, using powerful segmentation tools to deliver a relevant experience to nuanced market and customer segments within that group. That makes it super.
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