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FAST Channels: Definition, Benefits & Predictions

FAST Channels: Definition, Benefits & Predictions

At one point in time, it seemed as though there were an endless number of channels to flip through while watching television. Then, streaming services started to make an appearance, with Netfllix dominating the landscape while other broadcasters like Amazon and HBO quickly got in on the game.

But there are only so many subscriptions users will add to their bank balance, and that’s where FAST channels came along. By providing free content interspersed with ads, and the opportunity to view linear stations in real-time similar to traditional TV, FAST channels combine the best of traditional television and digital streaming.

So, how popular are FAST channels? And what impact will they have on the future of digital media? Read on to learn more about these innovative platforms, how they work, and what’s in store for the future.

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What are FAST Channels?

Fast Ad-Supported Streaming Television (FAST) channels are digital platforms that offer free video content to viewers, supported by ads. This approach essentially mimics the traditional linear model for TV channels, but is delivered through the internet, allowing audiences to access diverse content at no direct cost. These platforms earn revenue from advertisers who pay to run their ads during streaming, thereby supporting the distribution of free content to viewers.

Since these channels are digital, they are accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This removes many of the geographic restrictions of traditional broadcasting, enabling the content to reach a global audience.

A FAST service can be accessed via a variety of devices, including:

Smart TVs: Most Smart TVs come with built-in apps for popular FAST platforms like Pluto TV, Tubi or Samsung TV Plus. You can directly access these platforms from your TV's app page.

Streaming Devices and Dongles: Devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, or Apple TV support FAST channel apps. Once you connect the device to your TV, you can download and access the FAST channel apps from the device's app store.

Smartphones and Tablets: FAST channels also have mobile apps that you can download from the App Store or Google Play, allowing you to stream content on your mobile devices.

Desktop Computers: You can also stream content from FAST channels directly on your computer through internet browsers. Simply navigate to the FAST channel's website and start watching.

Examples of FAST Channels

FAST channels have been growing rapidly all over the world, but most predominantly in the U.S. Here are some notable examples:

Pluto TV: Owned by ViacomCBS, Pluto TV provides both live and on-demand content across several genres. It has also expanded to various markets outside the U.S., including the UK, Germany, and Latin America.

Tubi: Acquired by Fox Corporation, Tubi provides more than 20,000 movies and television series from over 250 content partners, including major studios.

Xumo: A Comcast company, Xumo offers live and on-demand content in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico.

Rakuten TV: Popular in Europe, Rakuten TV's free section offers a variety of films, documentaries, and TV series supported by advertisements.

Veely: Veely, a FAST channel platform created by Little Dot Studios, provides content across hard hitting documentaries, history, wildlife, science, family life, reality TV and more through amazing channels and thousands of on-demand programmes.

FAST Channels Vs. AVOD, SVOD and TVOD

Streaming is changing, and changing fast. Several different digital broadcasting models now exist, each with pros and cons for both users and the streaming companies themselves.

AVOD (Advertising-Based Video On Demand)

Like FAST channels, AVOD services are typically free for viewers as they're supported by ads. Examples include YouTube and Crackle. The key difference lies in content organisation; FAST channels provide a linear TV-like experience (and some on demand content), whereas AVOD platforms usually operate solely on a non-linear model where users select individual videos to watch.

SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand)

SVOD services require viewers to pay a subscription fee to access content. They offer an ad-free viewing experience, and examples include Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

TVOD (Transactional Video On Demand)

TVOD platforms operate on a pay-per-view basis. Viewers pay for individual pieces of content they wish to watch. iTunes and Google Play are typical TVOD services.

What about Over-The-Top (OTT)?

The overarching concept that brings all of these streaming platform categories together is Over-The-Top (OTT) media services. OTT is the broad framework within which these varied streaming and monetization models operate. It represents the transition from traditional broadcast methods to internet-based delivery of content.

OTT refers to any streaming service that provides content directly to viewers through an internet connected device. It bypasses traditional cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms that traditionally control content distribution. Platforms like streaming services and FAST channels "sit over the top" of traditional service delivery methods and so were coined as "Over-The-Top" services.

OTT can be segmented into different models based on monetization strategies, which is where FAST, AVOD, SVOD, and TVOD come into play. They are all different types of OTT services, each with its own unique approach to delivering and monetizing content.

FAST channels fall under the broader AVOD umbrella but distinguish themselves by offering an experience similar to linear channels.

AVOD platforms offer on-demand content free of cost, but the viewing experience is interspersed with advertisements.

SVOD platforms require a regular subscription payment for accessing their content library without ads.

TVOD services operate on a pay-per-view basis, so users only have to pay a one-time fee for the specific content they’re looking to watch.

Lots of channels choose to mix and match these platform types. For example, Little Dot Studios operates several channel brands that are available across all major social video networks, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snap. But we also syndicate our channel brands as linear streaming (FAST) channels to OTT platforms globally, including our own platform, Veely.

This empowers our content superfans to consume whichever way they choose, and ensures content creators and advertisers can reach as wide an audience as possible. Learn more about Little Dot Studios digital broadcast network!

The History and Significance of FAST Channels

These digital platforms didn't emerge overnight. Instead, they are a result of progressive shifts in the way we consume media.

The concept of free-to-air television dates back to the inception of television itself. But the arrival of the internet and its impact on media consumption marked the onset of a significant transition. The rise of digital streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu in the late 2000s showed the world that the internet was an exciting and effective new medium for broadcasting content. As internet speeds improved and streaming technology advanced, so did the viability of digital broadcasting.

The development of FAST channels was a direct response to this shift in consumption patterns. It was a way to emulate the familiar format of traditional television while leveraging the power of the internet. By combining the nostalgia of scheduled programming with the modern perks of digital broadcasting, FAST channels created a unique space within the streaming landscape.

The first major player in the FAST channel market was Pluto TV, which launched in 2014. Pluto TV started as a curiosity but quickly gained traction due with a unique proposition – linear television for the internet era. Other players soon recognized the potential and followed suit. By offering free, ad-supported content, these channels provided a refreshing alternative to the paid subscription models of SVOD platforms.

The Impact of FAST Channels

FAST channels are quickly changing the game for both viewers, advertisers and broadcasters alike.


For viewers, the rise of FAST channels signifies more choice and accessibility. Now, audiences can access a huge amount of high-quality content without having to pay for a subscription. This is particularly significant for viewers who may find subscription services unaffordable or want to supplement their existing subscriptions with more content.


For advertisers, the emergence of FAST channels opens up a new, cost-effective avenue for reaching audiences. These channels provide advertisers with the opportunity to leverage the power of digital advertising – including precise targeting and real-time analytics – in a format that's familiar to viewers and at a much lower cost than traditional TV advertising.

Broadcasters and Content Creators

For broadcasters and content creators, the rise of FAST channels provides a platform for reaching wider audiences. These channels give content creators the opportunity to showcase their work to a global audience, while broadcasters can expand their viewer base beyond traditional geographic boundaries.

Traditional TV and Cable Providers

The rise of FAST channels also presents challenges for traditional TV and cable providers. As more viewers turn to digital platforms for their content needs, traditional providers must adapt to stay relevant. This could involve diversifying their offerings, developing their own FAST channels, or partnering with existing digital platforms.

The Benefits of Advertising Through FAST Channels

Advertisers are slowly but surely exploring FAST channels due to several compelling benefits:


As FAST channels are digital and often have a global presence, they offer advertisers the opportunity to reach a wide, diversified audience.


With traditional TV ads becoming increasingly expensive, FAST channels provide a more affordable advertising platform.

Targeted Advertising

Using data analytics, FAST channels can offer more precise targeting than traditional TV, enabling advertisers to reach their desired demographic effectively.


The digital nature of FAST channels allows for more flexible ad placements and changes compared to traditional TV ads, which are usually fixed once scheduled.

At Little Dot Studios, our network of channel brands, including Real Stories, Wonder, Real Wild and History Hit, are syndicated as FAST channels on platforms like Roku, Samsung TV Plus, Vizio and Amazon (FreeVee). This has enabled us to grow and cultivate huge audiences and work with top broadcasters and brands to amplify content and advertising alike. Speak with the team to learn more!

The Future of FAST Channels

The future of FAST channels appears promising. With an increase in demand for more accessible, affordable content, the potential for FAST channels is significant. Industry trends suggest a rise in global collaborations to broaden content libraries, further fueling their popularity, while a 2022 study from Hub Research found that 57% of viewers would rather view ads if it meant saving money on subscriptions.

But the landscape is not so simple. While platforms like Netflix and Disney+ consider adding ad-support tiers to their platforms, some FAST channels are making a move towards subscription-only models.

The best example of this is Peacock TV, a pioneer of the FAST channel movement. In February 2023, they announced the removal of their free tier in favour of a subscription model.

The digital broadcasting world is in flux, and which OTT models will thrive the best remains to be seen.

Genres for Any Obsession Across a 360° Network

The era of FAST channels is definitely upon us, and it's revolutionising how users consume content. By blending traditional TV’s familiarity with digital media’s accessibility, FAST presents an exciting opportunity for viewers, content creators, and advertisers alike.

Looking to leverage the benefits of FAST channels? Learn more about the Little Dot Studios digital broadcast network, where we reach vast and varied audiences, from hardcore history fans to dedicated documentary lovers, across 35 channel brands. Reach out to learn more!