In the fast-paced media industry, businesses need to show business agility, be efficient, and keep their audience engaged. This is especially true in the FAST world. Here is a snapshot of trends in the FAST ecosystem and practical advice for FAST businesses that want to maximise their content value, enhance efficiencies and optimise audience engagement. A new MEDIAGENIX white paper — ”How to make FAST faster, cheaper, and better” — delves deeper into this issue.

The FAST market continues to change. One significant trend is a drive to higher quality. To scale up, FASTs increasingly need huge catalogues and now must produce original content to compete for audiences.


Ivan Verbesselt, Chief Product & Marketing Officer, MEDIAGENIX

In a recent MEDIAGENIX webinar on FAST, media analyst Alan Wolk said: “Initially, FASTs used whatever they could lay their hands on just to build out their services. As soon as they had more than they needed, they started to curate their channels, bringing in more popular content and getting rid of anything that didn’t perform well. You can no longer conjure up a FAST channel lock, stock, and barrel. You have to get it right.”

A second trend is the migration of the linear channel concept to subscription services. Alan Wolk: ”The big players are rolling out ad-supported tiers anyway, so what better way than FAST to get people to see more ads, increase revenues and create a better user experience? Consumers like it, and it increases engagement.”

This comes with a better integration of Linear and On-Demand now that media companies negotiate or renegotiate their content rights with better foresight. After all, from the viewer’s standpoint, what is the difference between a VOD service that automatically starts a new episode of a series as soon as the viewer has finished watching the previous one and a FAST channel that runs all episodes back-to-back on a linear schedule?

Life in the crowded FAST lane Chief Product & Marketing Officer.

The FAST environment is a crowded place, where the fight for EPG slots and eyeballs is fierce, and margins are tight and unforgiving. While you can set up as many FAST channels as you want about whatever content, the fact that viewers increasingly disperse across platforms implies that you need to get your channels on multiple platforms. Getting them onto the larger ones that ensure the advertising revenues you need is challenging, so you must be creative with additional ways to build an audience while keeping a tight grip on costs.

There are many things to consider. First of all, you have to know your market and your catalogue. You need a different approach for original content and licensed content. Will you partner with existing FAST channels or strike a deal to be part of a curated channel, or is it more advantageous to launch your own channel and attract people to your owned-and-operated platforms? And how will you stand out from the FAST crowd knowing that the big aggregator services have hundreds of channels on them?

The fact is that creating a FAST channel that is well thought-out, approaches the quality of a traditional TV schedule, stays within rights and budget, engages the viewer, and creates viewer loyalty could quickly turn out to be more work than you bargained (and budgeted) for.

Important choices need to be made.

  • How will you engage the viewers knowing that erratic programming won’t work and that you need to promote your content?
  • Given the pressure on the margins, how can you do more with less?
  • How will you avoid the legal pitfalls when scheduling multiple FAST channels at speed with a limited headcount?

You can either be daunted or see it as an excellent opportunity. Here are rules of thumb that will help you along the way to success.

  • Be fast on your feet and grow as you go. Be sure you can get up and running quickly with a short Time-to-Value and without high upfront costs and infrastructure requirements. With FAST channels, you need to be able to experiment and fail fast: a matter of business agility.
  • Do more with less: automate and manage by exception.
  • Ensure audience engagement with the right scheduling and promotion strategies.
  • Enhance operational efficiencies, simplifying processes across VOD and Linear with unified workflows that flexibly adapt to the specifics of the distribution channels.
  • And whatever you do, stay clear of trouble. Your scheduling system should ensure your scheduling is in line with licence conditions and regulations, such as parental guidance restrictions and commercial payload checks. This requires easy capture of rights data with pluggable web apps that facilitate task-based contributions from various parties along the content supply chain. Your rights management should have the granularity to facilitate content repurposing and repackaging and enable you to easily comply with reporting obligations, such as asrun and copyright reporting.

FAST is further enriching a mix of business models and viewer experiences that will coexist on multiple platforms. For viewers, the ultimate dream is to switch on any connected device and have a set of automatically curated and personalised channels. That, too, will come fast.

Learn more How to make FAST faster, cheaper, and better,”