Popularity of FAST TV Surges as Viewers Look to Economize

As inflation drives consumers to economize, free ad-supported streaming television is booming even as premium streaming services are growing subscribers in increments. A Q4 survey by Deloitte found that 44 percent of those surveyed had canceled at least one paid subscription service in the preceding six months. The Deloitte study also found that 59 percent of viewers were willing to watch some ads each hour in exchange for a free or discounted television service. Research firm Omdia says global FAST channel ad revenue topped $4 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $12 billion by 2027.

That’s small potatoes compared to the $72 billion paid streaming video services generated globally in 2021, according to Business of Apps, which forecasts $115 billion in 2026, but not too shabby for a category that had been operating on the fringe, surviving on content castoffs.

According to The Verge, “ad-supported platforms are the fastest-growing part of the streaming business right now,” with services like Pluto, Tubi, Freevee and The Roku Channel “starting to assert themselves as power players in their own right.”

These platforms have been quietly amassing their content libraries for years, and now have millions of users. “The future of TV is free, it has ads, and it involves a lot of channel surfing,” writes The Verge, quipping, “it’s a lot like the TV business of old, really. That’s actually kind of the point.”

While free ad-supported streaming television, known as FAST services, are programmed “streaming channels that run 24/7 and are roughly analogous to broadcast channels,” a popular variation, AVOD, or advertising-based video on demand, “refers to a library of content you can watch whenever you like.”

Netflix, Max and their ilk are SVOD, or subscription video on demand. FAST and AVOD share an appealing aspect: they’re free, explains The Verge, opining that “the future of streaming is ads,” a statement it backs up by pointing out that virtually every major SVOD service has launched, or announced the launch, of a FAST tier.

The Verge provides a rundown of the “most popular” FAST services, calling them “the closest thing you can get to having cable without actually paying for it.” In addition to the aforementioned, they include Plex, Sling Freestream, Samsung TV Plus and Xumo.

And while FAST offers consumers more choice, The Verge says, “the best part of FAST TV is the choice it takes away,” because “sometimes you just want to zone out watching the boob tube.”

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.