Are FAST services a PSB’s friend or foe?

Are FAST services a PSB’s friend or foe?

Free ad-supported TV (FAST) is growing at a slower pace in Europe than in the US market.

While TV analysts have expressed this is likely because of the continued strength of regional broadcasters in Europe, public service broadcasters (PSBs) have also taken to getting into the FAST game in recent months.

But does FAST offer fresh, perhaps unwanted, competition to PSBs? The Media Leader asked TV leaders to understand how they view the burgeoning TV medium.

Craig Morris, managing editor, ITVX

Craig Morris ITVX square

“Friend — absolutely! FAST channels are just another way of providing people with a route to their favourite content. As a commercial PSB we want to make sure people discover all the amazing content we produce. FAST offers an easy way for viewers to consume popular shows like Love Island and The Chase, watch their favourite soaps with BSL or binge on a genre like comedy without having to go hunting for specific shows in our VOD catalogue.

“In a world where the amount of choice is overpowering for many viewers, FAST helps them reach their favourite content faster.

“ITVX’s FAST channels have helped us make our brands even more famous — very helpful in the cluttered media landscape that we operate in. They are additive overall — they lack the variety of our main PSB linear channel offering, but are a brilliant way to connect certain cohorts of viewers with the content that best suits their mood.”

Ranjeet Kaur, programme director at Digital TV Group and Top 50 Women Gamechanger in TV 2023

ranjeet kaur dtg

“Embracing FAST services is a potential treasure trove for PSBs. By strategically curating content targeting diverse genres, demographics, and cultural preferences, PSBs can breathe new life into heritage and catalogue content to drive new revenue streams.

“While a single FAST service may not cater to everyone, the beauty lies in tailoring multiple services to specific audiences, thereby maximising reach and engagement.

“With FAST, PSBs have the power to not only increase revenues but also monetise legacy content, elevate customer experiences, foster loyalty, and fortify brand value. This transformative platform bridges the gap between traditional TV and the digital era, extending the TV experience to a global audience across various devices.”

Matt Hill, research and planning director, Thinkbox

“PSB or not, FAST channels are an opportunity for TV companies to maximise and monetise their rich catalogues of content, as well as to create new viewing environments that can attract new viewers and extend reach. And FAST is an opportunity that TV companies are already taking – and, as trusted, established UK TV brands, it is likely they will find it easier to attract viewers than newcomers.

“From ITV to UKTV, high quality FAST channels are launching, widening viewer choice and the advertising opportunity. But we should keep things in perspective.

“FAST is a welcome addition, but in the UK it is still a relatively small part of TV viewing – one that is complementary to the existing linear, BVOD and SVOD viewing that remains the core of our viewing experience. What the emergence of FAST channels means is even better served viewers and even more ways into the high quality, highly effective world of TV for advertisers.”

Karla Berry, distribution & partnerships leader, Channel 4

Karla Berry Channel 4 resized“We believe FAST is complimentary to the existing linear TV viewing ecosystem. It provides an alternative, more ‘lean back’ viewing experience, offering audiences a different way to access more quality public service content through digital streaming and incremental commercial opportunities to distributors.

“Our focus is on growing diversified revenue streams based on high-growth initiatives. As such, we continue to evaluate our FAST channel activity, using our findings to inform our wider strategy.”

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