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Want To Reach Millions With Your Video Content? Try FAST Platforms

"FAST" is a growing competitor to cable and major streaming services. Entrepreneur is joining, and you might want to get involved too.

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When people talk about streaming TV shows and movies, they usually mean Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and the like. But there's a growing world of services that don't get the same amount of attention and yet are drawing many millions of viewers — and they could be a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to amplify their video content.

Want to know how to get involved? Then you must understand the world of FAST.

FAST stands for Free Ad-supported Streaming Television, and it's a kind of mashup between old- and new-style viewing. Users can create an account on one of many FAST streaming services, and then watch television in roughly the same way they'd watch cable TV. Shows are aired at scheduled times, just like cable, and with ad breaks. If viewers want to upgrade with a monthly fee, they can typically get an ad-free, on-demand experience, just like a Hulu or Netflix.

The FAST world of services includes brands such as Pluto TV (owned by ViacomCBS, with more than 250 channels), Samsung TV Plus (with more than 190 channels), Tubi (owned by Fox Corp. with more than 20,000 movies and shows, and channels such as Fox Sports, Bloomberg Television, and PeopleTV). Although the FAST audience is still smaller than for premium services, several FAST platforms are now bigger in audience than all U.S. cable and satellite TV platforms. An increasing number of viewers are using FAST services as a replacement when they cut the cable cord.

"The opportunity really didn't become viable until the ad market caught up with the streaming world, where you could leverage advertising in streaming," says Tom Ashley, CEO of Invincible Entertainment, whose FAST service Galxy has 1.5 million viewers per channel, per day. "Now, there are advertisers willing to pay for TV streaming. Now, these things are possible."

What's On FAST? Maybe You!

Entrepreneur is joining the FAST world, via a station called Entrepreneur TV on Galxy. It will launch in the coming months — and there's a chance for you to be on it! Entrepreneur is currently accepting submissions for both fully produced shows and show concepts. If you're interested, you can apply here.

When Entrepreneur TV is live, it will join numerous topic-oriented channels that viewers can watch on Galxy, including FrightFlix (horror movies), Slopes (skiing), and Cinepride (LGBTQ focus). A lot of Galxy's content was independently produced, meaning that it was developed outside of the system of large TV and movie studies.

"People think that it's not as high a quality as you would get from the studios, but a lot of the films that are winning Academy Awards are ones that the studios acquired after they were independently made and independently produced," Ashley says. "People are finding that there's really great content out there that's not coming from the big studios. There's a lot of really great, creative people out there making content."

For entrepreneurs who create content and want to gain more eyeballs, Entrepreneur TV isn't the only option inside the FAST ecosystem. Ashley says that FAST companies are always looking for new content and are often open to reviewing submissions. They're generally looking for everything from individual shows or documentary films to topics that can be built out into entire channels, he says. Some platforms are ready to talk about creating original content, while others will be soon.

"My advice is to really sit down and think about who your audience is, and what messages you're trying to serve to that audience," he says. "What value can you bring to them? Think realistically about the size of that audience—does it make sense to go to the trouble of building out a whole channel for that audience? If people think they have a niche and they want to start creating content, really assess what the opportunity is first. Whether it's on Galxy or any other platform, people have to have an interest in what you're creating. That's the most important thing."

Why Viewers Love FAST

For consumers, the ability to stream ad-supported content for free can mean a bundle in savings. Consumer Reports published a survey in December showing that 11 percent of respondents cut ties to their pay-TV service provider between 2020 and early 2021, with 61% citing rising costs and 93% saying internet streaming services provided better value for the money.

Many viewers don't mind seeing the ads mixed in with the free programming, Ashley says. As Consumer Reports notes, viewers were already used to sitting through at least 18 minutes of advertising per hour while paying for cable TV.

"I think that FAST technology and the FAST TV providers are going to be the future of what you think of as Comcast being," Ashley says. "Everybody is talking about cord cutting. If a consumer is trying to replicate the traditional cable offering, Netflix would be your movies and TV-on-demand, and Galxy would be where you go to channel surf."

Viewers will also be able to see different kinds of ads on the FAST services. Right now, most of the advertising looks similar to what viewers know from traditional TV. But the industry is evolving. Going forward, FAST services will be able to run things like ads with QR code calls to action for e-commerce, real-time graphics for promotions, and more.

And because the ads are being streamed instead of broadcast over the air, the data about what customers watch or respond to ads will be much more detailed than what traditional broadcast networks get. In August 2021, nScreenMedia projected that ad revenue earned by virtual linear channels will grow from $2.1 billion in 2021 to $4.1 billion in 2023.

"There was a time when many forecast the death of linear TV viewing," nScreenMedia analyst Colin Dixon wrote. "However, it is now clear that the format continues to deliver value to viewers. The FAST market has just begun a long period of rapid expansion."

Ashley agrees, and says that FAST services like Galxy have a clear path to a bigger future. Now that these types of services have a viable business model, he's looking to partner with all kinds of brands to bring all kinds of shows and channels to viewers.

"We had built our first model for this nine years ago," he says. "We started going into the channel business about three years ago. Galxy has been in beta version the past year. It's really just launching in a lot of places now, and we're looking to scale it in 2022.

Image credit for photo at top: Shutterstock

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