FAST channels are today’s fastest growing connected TV video platforms. They extend the reach of traditional linear TV channels (e.g. cable) to connected devices, like CTVs, tablets or laptops. However, unlike traditional subscription-based TV, FAST channels are supported by dynamically inserted ads. 

In this article, we will describe the benefits of launching a FAST channel and will briefly discuss the steps you need to take when launching one.


What are FAST channels and who offers them?

They are ad-supported and free to watch streaming channels which combine the benefits of linear and on-demand programming in a single experience. 

For TV manufacturers, FAST channels represent a new class of CTV experiences, where the services are directly integrated into the core of the SmartTV user interface. Examples of include Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel and many more. 

FAST channels are free, ad-supported streaming television services. These linear channels can be built using existing catalogs of on-demand content (VOD or SVOD), usually reorganized as content playlists or programming grids. 

Many popular brands operate their own channels as a way to monetize content through ads and reach new audiences. The most popular services offering FAST channels are Pluto TV (offered by ViacomCBS), Xumo (offered by NBCU), Tubi (offered by Fox), Peacock (offered by NBCU), The Roku Channel (offered by RokuTM), IMDbTV (offered by Amazon) and Samsung TV+ (offered by Samsung).

Samsung TV+


Samsung TV+

What are platform-agnostic and platform-exclusive FAST channels?

Some FAST channels are platform agnostic and available across multiple operating systems. Examples include Pluto TV, Peacock, Roku, and Xumo.

Other FAST channels are platform exclusive: available only on a specific operating platform. Examples include LG, Samsung TV+, and Vizio Watchfree.


Niche channels

FAST channels often cover niche subjects like cooking and fitness, or focus on genres such as westerns, science, history, or heritage cinema, etc.

These channels work a bit like the thematic channels found on cable and satellite packages. Examples of niche channels include: Mystery Science Theater, NFL TV, etc. Understandably, the catalog holders are often the publishers of these channels. 


Branded channels

Branded channels are used by companies and brands who are also the publishers of these channels. Branded channels generally offer content related to their products, services. They also broadcast premium content for which they have acquired the rights. Red Bull TV is an example of a branded FAST channel.


Media giants have invested in popular services, and the online advertising market (AVOD) could reach 25 billion dollars by 2025. 


The main steps to launch your FAST channel

To launch a FAST channel, you need to make sure at least a couple of steps



In order to create programming for your TV channel, you must first define its editorial line. In most cases, FAST channels distribute a combination of old content that you have probably already seen on cable TV over the last 40 years: indie movies, older network TV shows, and online videos. You can create a playlist of videos that will be played one after the other or in a loop. There are tools that allow you to manage more advanced programming, and, for example, broadcast series at a certain time every day.

FAST channels can be constructed using existing assets from your SVOD or AVOD libraries. It is possible for channel creators to create channels out of short-form content that would normally be delivered via platforms such as YouTube, and use that content on your FAST channel.


A FAST channel needs lots of content. You will need to generate a linear video stream (also known as playout) for your broadcast. It must be converted into a format suitable for optimized online delivery on the web across different platforms and devices around the world. Usually, the multi-resolution HLS format is used.


As a way to monetize your channel, you should also consider dynamic ad insertion through platforms such as Google Adsense or Freewheel. Advertising through FAST channels means that ads will be placed at strategic or very specific places: for example, between two pieces of content or within the predefined ad breaks (ad pods). There are other services that optimize the filling by aggregating several agencies for the best CPM. It is expected that over $25 billion will be spent on ads in the AVOD space by 2025. FAST 


Lastly, the most important thing is to broadcast and distribute your channel. You can also consider distributing it on a platform that aggregates FAST channels, like Pluto TV, Xumo, or Samsung+. The main advantage is that you get to piggyback on the traffic of these large platforms. However, the platform reaps a significant share of the channel’s advertising revenue, usually between 30% and 50%.


The benefits of FAST channels for traditional broadcasters

Broadcasters want to deliver the best possible viewing experience to their target audiences, and FAST channels make it a little easier. Traditional broadcasters get the ability to reach more of their endemic viewers, more of the time, and on more devices, while acquiring new and non-endemic viewers.

The arrival of FAST platforms gives broadcasters the opportunity to eliminate yet more legacy boundaries. Just as they did when they embraced cable and satellite distribution from their OTA roots, now they can transcend almost all remaining boundaries, from geography to device to time of day, and enjoy a substantially greater footprint on an entirely new class of devices and services.

This potential for innovation and accessibility truly sets FAST platforms apart from both traditional over-the-air linear and on-demand streaming platforms. Over the coming years, we will increasingly see that impact as more device manufacturers and VOD platforms, both ad-supported and paid, enter the space, providing an ever more diverse set of curated and personalized linear channels to their users. 

The growth of FAST platforms heralds massive change for the future of television, whilst still retaining the aspects of traditional broadcast television that viewers love. FAST platforms combine elements of innovation and tradition into the ideal linear viewing experience — and the industry will be stronger for it.


The reasons to launch a FAST channel

Here are four reasons you should consider starting a FAST channel:

Ramp up your monetization

Through ads, FAST channels let you monetize your content. Some people like YouTube, others prefer OTT SVOD platforms, but there is a growing demographic of people who watch FAST channels. Launching one will allow you to reach completely new audiences and get more views on your video content, and monetize it.

Promote your content with existing FAST channels

You can use FAST channels to make your content more known. 

If you have an existing content catalog, you can stream it through a linear TV channel, instead of offering it in the VOD model. If you create a TV channel and distribute it on services such as Samsung+ or Pluto, you will increase the number of people who can see your videos immediately as these services already have millions of users.

Create thematic channels to attract passionate audiences

By launching a FAST channel, you can capture the cord-cutters deciding to cancel their cable TV subscriptions. Fans of thematic channels are willing to accept advertising as a tradeoff for access to the video content they particularly enjoy. Many cable TVs started as thematic channels.

Marketing tool for promotion and engagement

FAST channels can also be used as a promotion and engagement tool for your other products and services. For example, you can use it to display ads encouraging viewers to subscribe to the premium plan of your VOD service. If you offer products or services, a branded channel will help you build awareness. RedBull TV is a great example here.

Advertising will be another area of innovation with FAST channels. Today’s FAST services use the same advertising pods we know from traditional TV. In the future, FAST services will be able to support any advertising and promotional model imaginable. Dynamic calls to action with QR codes will power ecommerce experiences. Real time graphics will support sponsorships, promotions, and tune-in. Flexible ad insertion engines will enable limited commercial interruption experiences. Cloud based video manipulation will provide squeeze-backs and other mechanisms to create additional saleable real estate.


Last words

If you are a publisher or content creator and you are thinking of launching your own channel, we can help you. Drop us a line and schedule a call. Our experts are ready to discuss your project.