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Fast channels all you need to know for the start

FAST channels and all you need to know for the start

What is a FAST channel?

A service that offers free access to pre-programmed video channels in exchange for watching ads during pre-scheduled breaks, Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST) works like traditional TV but over the Internet.

What's the difference between FAST and AVOD, SVOD?

The most similar experience to traditional cable television is provided by FAST. Viewers are presented with ad-supported channels that each broadcast scheduled programs in real-time, much like the cable menus of yesteryear.

Ad Supported Video On Demand (AVOD)

When it comes to content, AVOD puts the user in control. They use services like Roku and Hulu to get on-demand programs, and they watch media in an ad-supported setting. AVOD customers frequently have free access to this content.

Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD)

Users of SVOD pay a yearly or recurring charge to view the material. Just as television did not kill cinema or radio but changed habits and proportions of media consumption in the market.

Why FAST channels are so important?

FAST market has proven that people still like this lean back viewing paradigm and on many occasions prefer linear channels than vod. At the same time the ads in traditional linera television are the same for all viewers so ads are not target to the specific audience. On the contrary fast channals are using DAI (Dynamic Ads Insertion) technology in order to insert ads that are relevant to each viewer. Fast channels are gaining momentum and may be quickly became the most important advertising revenue.

Viacom paid $340 million to acquire Pluto TVTM in January 2019. For more than $100 million, Comcast purchased XumoTM in February of 2020. For $440 million, Fox bought Tubi in March.

These companies are placing a lot of money on FASTs since the most well-known services have estimated monthly users in the tens of millions. Launching a FAST channel could be a sensible step for content distributors aiming to interact with more consumers in order to increase direct-to-consumer digital reach and engagement. The second thing they have in common is fast advertising revenue, which is why content distributors are paying close attention..

What are the benefits of FAST?

  • Completely free for users while continuing to make money from advertisements.
  • No need to register as a user.
  • With fewer choices to decide about what to watch, users can enjoy a more relaxing experience and reduce decision fatigue.
  • No need to register as a user.
  • Cheaper and simpler to deploy compared to premium or subscription services. For improved income generation, Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) offers higher ad fill rates.

What do you need to launch a FAST channel?

  1. A strong content collection is the first requirement for creating a successful FAST channel. Whether it be cinema, news, sports, or even theme or specialty archive programming, your content should draw viewers and entice them to return after the ad break. Think about the FAST channel you want, the viewers you want to reach, and the content's applicability to them. A captive audience that is already familiar with them is attracted to recognizable titles, and the distribution strategy enables the reuse of content that might otherwise have been inactive.
  2. The best partner to get you going quickly. The most important qualities of your partner are
  3. Ability to launch your channel quickly
  4. Zero investment costs and low operational costs
  5. Integration with distributors that will deliver your FAST channel to viewers
  6. The best possible integrated MAM (Media Asset Management), playout, and scheduling system that saves your time so you can easily and quickly manage many channels at the same time.
  7. Wide distribution to many FAST platforms
  8. Marketing comes last on the list of factors but it is equally important. It's not enough to simply launch a FAST channel and expect viewers to tune in. Understanding the target audience and how to increase viewership is crucial. If you build it, will they come?

What are the technical requirements for FAST?

  • the ability to broadcast live streams as scheduled events
  • playout supporting SCTE-35 markers for ad insertion
  • the ability to insert live content
  • system to schedule and put overlays, such as text, ads, bugs, and other graphic components, in a steady environment.
  • delivery system with support HLS or SRT

What are the typical video formats, protocols for FAST channels?

Most of the channels are offered in HD quality with 3-4 variant streams. Streams are encoded with h.264 or h.265.

  • 640x360 at 800-1200 Kbps
  • 960x540 at 1600-2400 Kbps
  • 1280x720 at 3000-4000 Kbps
  • 1920x1080 at 5000-8000 Kbps
  • 640x360 at 400-600 Kbps
  • 960x540 at 800-1200 Kbps
  • 1280x720 at 1500-1700Kbps
  • 1920x1080 at 3000-3500 Kpbs

For UHD content it is recommended to use h.265 in 4 variant streams.

  • 1280x720 at 1300-1700 Kbps
  • 1920x1080 at 2500-3500 Kbps
  • 2560x1440 at 5000-8000 Kbps
  • 3840x2160 at 10000-15000 Kbps

Platforms require the streams to be provided in a 16:9 aspect ratio with consistent framerate 23.976,24,25,29.97,30,50 or 60 fps

The general rule of thumb is that the more dynamic content (for example sport) requires higher bitrate and higher framerate.

Audio streams should be encoded in AAC/AC3 or E-AC3.

Audio loudness is recommended to follow EBU R 128 norm
  • -23 LKFS (LUFS)
  • -1 dBTP recommended maximum

HLS streams should:
  • by compliant with RFC8216
  • provide manifests with at least 60 seconds of content
  • provide media segments with the length between 5 and 6 seconds
  • manifests require frame-accurate ad markers (SCTE-35) with EXT-X-CUE-OUT and EXT-X-CUE-IN tags

Subtiltes / Closed captions are typically DVB, CEA-608, or CEA-708. In HLS WebVTT is usually recommended

Channel owners are usually required to provide Electronic Program Guide (EPG) in XMLTV format for the next 4-10 days.

What are the main FAST platforms?

Many FAST platforms offer a variety of ad-supported channels. They sometimes also offer AVOD or SVOD services like for example Netflix, Disney+.

The most popular platforms are:

  1. Roku
  2. Tubi
  3. Samsung Plus
  4. LG
  5. Pluto TV
  6. Peacock
  7. Vudu
  8. Plex
  9. FAST TV Network

If you want to find a more fast channel platform please check out Quickstream Hub - a live video content marketplace.