Promising as the FAST distribution model may be, it is a daily fight for eyeballs, premium ad placements, and prominence on a broad range of FAST platforms. To stand out from the crowd, create scale, and ensure a stable source of ad revenues, quality content needs to be packaged and scheduled to high standards across a diverse range of platforms. The key challenge is to maximize the monetization potential of content while minimizing both CAPEX and OPEX.
The origin of FAST
Free ad-supported linear streaming TV (FAST) has taken off rapidly in recent years as a content distribution model.
The transition from traditional linear distribution (cable or satellite TV) to digital distribution (0TT, streaming) paved the way for SVOD players, who attracted viewers in droves and can be credited for instilling a growing familiarity with digital video consumption among viewers.
As the technological entry level lowered, the market fragmented and so did the offer presented to the consumers. Viewers soon reached their limit of how many SVOD subscriptions they were willing to take, and decided to top 2 or 3 big subscriptions with free versions, as they also grew increasingly comfortable with watching ads.
Free ad-supported channels are now thriving, also buoyed up by the growth of connected TVs. Estimations are that by 2024 there will be 215 million installed smart TVs in the U.S. Many FAST channels are launched by small startups with niche content. Established media companies see it as an additional way to get eyeballs and visibility, sometimes to drive SVOD subscriptions.
Standing out from the crowd
The increasing viewer uptake attracts advertising agencies who are happy to divert their ad dollars to FAST channels. This propels FAST as a viable business model in the changing media ecosystem.
As FAST is starting to mature and ever more FAST channels are being launched, the challenge is to stand out from an increasingly saturated market. It becomes a top priority to have a decent volume of quality content that is packaged and scheduled to high standards. To create scale and secure a stable source of ad revenues, it has become equally crucial to grow a loyal viewer base across a diverse range of streaming and other platforms.
Content is not enough
Having good niche, mainstream and/or premium content is a must. And so is a clear focus on the target audience. But neither content nor focus can guarantee that the FAST distribution model will yield positive returns. FAST is a daily fight for eyeballs, premium ad placements, and prominence on a broad range of FAST platforms. It is a fight that grows tougher now that FAST platforms are starting to demand higher quality programming and business model flexibility from FAST channel providers.
FAST channel owners need to manage many channels at once with superior quality in an efficient and dynamic operational environment, without hitting operational or manpower constraints.
As the boundaries between FAST and AVOD — and, by extension, between linear and VOD — are fading, they also need to distribute their channels to an increasingly wide variety of platforms. They need to do this with unified workflows that flexibly adapt to the specifics of the distribution channels. On these platforms, they can get the most out of their investment in content thanks to full visibility of how the content is used to ensure maximum usage of rights and optimum windowing across channels.
Maximizing audience engagement and advertising appeal across a multitude of platforms
WHATS’ON, the enterprise-grade Media Business Management Platform by MEDIAGENIX, has the functionality that puts FAST channel owners in the driving seat of their content supply chain. Designed to manage high-quality content scheduling across various distribution channels, the platform makes it easy and profitable to create targeted ad-funded linear content streams that are driven by viewer and advertiser demand. New channels can be launched fast and utilized on additional FAST platforms without significant impact on the existing operational capabilities.
The software-driven workflows around content, rights and planning leverage 3 power principles: a single source of truth, touchless operations, and actionable data. The operational efficiency gained thanks to these 3 principles enables the smallest teams to do strategic and long-term planning for many channels simultaneously, on top of short-term scheduling.
Flexible promotion planning keeps audiences engaged and drives return visits to the channels, while commercial spot planning maximizes value for advertisers and allows dynamic alignment with their campaigns. In view of the fact that Linear streams are increasingly combined with VOD, the curator functionality manages VOD content and nodes (e.g. for swim lanes) to facilitate content discovery and increase viewer engagement.
Reducing CAPEX and OPEX, and maximizing Content ROI
The integration capabilities of the MEDIAGENIX team and the fast uptake of WHATS’ON functionality by the client’s scheduling experts ensure a short Time-to-Value, while the SaaS model not only makes it possible to steer away from substantial upfront investments but also makes it feasible to align cost structures with the chosen growth path. Thanks to the openness of the platform, no major changes are needed to the existing tech stack.
MEDIAGENIX is a one-product company fully focused on enabling media companies large and small to maximize the returns on their key assets, i.e. their content and audience. Co-development with clients ensures that FAST channel owners always have the right functionalities at hand to grow their media business in the evolving competitive landscape.