The rise of FAST: what are consumers really watching?

31 October, 2023

Image: Jury Duty, Amazon Freevee

Free ad-supported streaming television, or FAST, has become quite the trendy topic of conversation throughout Hollywood in recent years. Despite its growth, no one seems to be quite sure what to make of FAST in the long haul. Is the recreation of channel-surfing linear television mixed with on-demand viewing via the internet the ideal ad revenue-generating complement to a declining pay-TV bundle and uncertain SVOD ambitions? Or, is FAST merely a small bubble waiting to pop as the market continues to contract and decelerate? 

We may not know the precise answer for some time, but to begin understanding the consumer use case for FAST, we can explore what audiences are actually watching on the platforms. This chart shows the total demand for all shows and movies available on four major FAST platforms (Tubi, The Roku Channel, Pluto TV and Freevee) in the US in August, according to Parrot Analytics. The total demand for all shows and movies available is indexed to market-leader Tubi, and the figures shown represent the percentage of each catalog’s demand from series or movies. 

Fox’s Tubi, Paramount Global’s Pluto TV and Amazon’s Freevee all see more demand concentration for movies while The Roku Channel is more TV-driven. This provides a snapshot of what types of content audiences are most seeking out on these platforms. On the TV side, news, drama, reality, comedy, animation and kids programming are among the most in-demand genres of programming across major FAST services. This can help most effectively direct ad dollars. 

FASTs are poised to play a big role in the media ecosystem in the short term. Yet maximizing their value will depend on understanding their accompanying audience behavior. 


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