Advanced Television

Can FAST become the new cable?

April 24, 2023

FAST (free ad-supported television) is often likened to cable TV — they both deliver live and on-demand television to your eyeballs — but there are sharp differences between the two that could see free ad-supported streaming TV services kill cable.

Lesser cable channels rarely feature original programming, relying instead on ‘reruns’ of older network shows and movies. These shows are programmed on a linear schedule and viewers looking to watch, say, repeats of Law and Order can jump right in, without having to decide which of the hundreds of episodes they want to watch.

If that sounds a lot like a FAST channel, you’re not wrong. But unlike their cable counterpart, FAST networks are free and offer much lower advertising loads, driving greater consumer appeal. And as the streaming space continues to grow, the question mark around the future of cable TV is becoming ever more apparent.

A new era of video distribution

Now is the time for smaller cable networks to consider whether a move into the FAST market makes sense for them. Networks make their money from advertising so it’s in their interest to be available on as many outlets as possible, where their ads can be seen by as many people as possible.

We have already seen several networks make the move (note the likes of Tubi and Peacock), both having started out with existing library content before dipping their toes into original programming in recent years.

If enough channels follow in their footsteps and transition to FAST, this could be the beginning of the end for cable.

But is FAST better than cable?

FAST can offer a superior experience to cable for both consumers and advertisers. For consumers, a linear feed or on demand access across a range of devices creates a variety of viewing options. FAST also offers some degree of personalisation, with viewer A potentially seeing a different grouping of shows than viewer B, based on past viewing and what the service feels audiences in that demographic might enjoy.

For advertisers, FAST offers completely addressable inventory that is sold by audience segment, rather than daypart. That allows for better measurement and greater targeting, which in turns allows more brands to begin running ads on TV.

What’s interesting about this is that it’s really just the proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs: the same players will be involved, they’ll just be distributing things differently and the role of the middleman, originally played by Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs), is now likely to include device manufacturers as well as others.

What this means for the future

Industry conversations point to many streaming platforms abandoning the subscription model in favour of FAST. But this is not without its challenges. Platforms are once again having to plan programming rather than letting consumers simply select on demand. It also assumes that consumers will continue to have an appetite for programmed content – on-demand options surged for a reason after all.

But consumer viewing habits have continued to develop as streaming options and models have advanced, and with the rise of FAST, consumers are getting free content (via ad exposure), content providers are getting new revenue channels and platforms are getting more content to engage users.

When factoring in the options and content that now exist in the streaming universe – such as platforms that deliver original content and blockbuster movies on demand, live news or sports, and FAST channels – the landscape has undoubtedly changed and will continue to do so as the rise of new options like FAST channels aims to offer consumers exactly what they want.

FAST Channels for FAST markets

FAST Channels TV provides over 200 linear channels, alongside sophisticated white-label platform and FAST playout generation services, helping broadcasters, operators, and content owners to drive viewer engagement and enable monetisation.

Our latest partnership with FiredUp Network – a leader in exclusive sports stories, interviews, and insider content that is already on over 222 podcast platforms around the world – sees the launch of their 24/7 free ad-supported streaming TV channel, FiredUp.

Speaking on the new channel, FiredUp Network CEO Joe Peisich, shared: “We’re thrilled to be launching our first ever FAST channel, bringing our popular content to even more sports fans. The setup was easy and not nearly as expensive as initially thought, and our channel was created and launched on 11 platforms within the first week of signing up with FAST Channels TV. Now, we’re working with FAST Channels TV to launch our channel on more OTT platforms, and beginning co-marketing activities to drive our target audience to the likes of Mometu and FlixHouse, where our FAST channel can currently be viewed.”

To find out how FAST Channels TV can help you reach new audiences, and for more information regarding FAST Channels TV platform, visit

Categories: Articles, Cable, FTA, OTT

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