Top 5 must-haves for FAST channels

Kristiane Ekrheim
March 17, 2023

What is FAST?

FAST stands for free, ad-supported, streaming TV services and is a rapidly growing OTT monetisation business model. FAST combines advertising and scheduled TV to provide viewers with a subscription-free streaming option. This is essentially linear television presented in a familiar lean-back program guide style, available without a subscription and funded by advertising revenue.

The core technology and business decisions you'll have to make when implementing FAST

FAST Channels can be created through the implementation of these 5 key technologies

1. Content

FAST channels, given their low cost and easily monetizable nature, provide a vehicle for the distribution of all types of content: from news, to sports, and even niche archive or deep library content. The distribution model allows for the repurposing of content that otherwise may have stood idle.

Generally, channel owners are trying to distribute their FAST Channels broadly across services in a similar model to Cable or Satellite TV. Not limiting themselves to one destination.

More SVOD services are adding FAST channels to their catalogue to help find and attract new audiences, this trend is expected to continue

2. FAST Platform

In most cases FAST Channels are delivered to existing platforms that provide a TV-like viewing experience. That means that a FAST channel is added to an existing aggregate of channels for example on Samsung TV Plus, LG TV, Roku Channel, Pluto, Xumi, and more.

3. SSAI - Server Side Ad Insertion

With SSAI, ads are stitched into the video stream on the server-side before it is sent to the viewer's device. This approach allows for seamless transitions between content and ads, resulting in a faster, smoother viewing experience. Additionally, SSAI provides better control over ad placement, enabling targeted advertising and reducing ad repetition for viewers. Overall, SSAI is a necessary tool for creating fast channels that provide a high-quality viewing experience for users while maximising revenue for content providers.

4. Ad Platform

The Ad Platform is an amalgamation of multiple functions in a workflow and can be built of multiple piece parts; from Ad Decisioning, Ad Ops, Ad Sales, Campaign Management, Ad Serving, among others.

Its role in FAST is to manage the advertising inventory, frequency, and serve the SSAI solution as needed, with the right advertising content creating a seamless experience between VOD assets and the video Ads.

5. Scheduling System / Playout

Scheduling System / Playout is a main enabling technology to achieve a seamless playout of advertising that allows FAST channels to feel like a Broadcast Playout. SSAI is built on the same manifest manipulation technologies that allow linear streaming playback from VOD assets, with the added step of fetching ads from the ad network when required for ad insertion.

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