NAB Show New York: FAST Channels Growing Apace

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The NAB Show New York panel “The Business of FAST: Monetization, Market Saturation and Viewer Engagement” went down October 24, and looked at how free ad-supported streaming television platforms have grown so fast, and what is next for them. A couple panelists mentioned “decision fatigue” on AVOD (advertising based video on demand) channels, and suggested FAST platforms offer users a more direct path to the content they want.

Matthew Dominguez, senior manager, streaming distribution and partnerships, Cox Media Group, said FAST avoids “that infinite scroll, looking for something you want.” He said Cox’s FAST channels provide users “another way for people to watch our live local news.”

NAB New York is happening at the Javits Center in Manhattan October 24-26.

Jonathan Hurd, partner at tech consultant Altman Solon, moderated the panel.

Lindsey Stewart, VP of FAST and AVOD revenue strategy, AMC Networks, said the networks’ audiences cover “a broad swath of genres,” and the FAST channels, including The Walking Dead Universe and AMC En Español, offer users more “targeted streaming environments.”

Hedwig Arnet, VP of business development at Vevo, sounded a similar note, saying the platform offers “a huge array of FAST channels across all genres and decades,” including pop, country and hip-hop, with some 800,000 music videos available to users. “We really try to cater to all,” she said.

David Simon, Moloco general manager of growth initiatives, said FAST channels are in a position to build uniquely solid long-range relationships with users. “The loyalty among subscribers in SVOD is actually pretty terrible,” he said, citing major churn on both SVOD and AVOD. “It’s a really wide open space. You can really flex your muscles if you have in-demand content.”

Simon added that buying advertising on digital platforms is very complicated, with a wide range of data points, prices and other factors facing the buyer. “How do you create pockets that feel natural to what you’re selling?” he said. “As a buyer you have to be really thoughtful” about the platforms you are investing in.

Arnet said the user data for platforms delivering TV episodes and movies may be solid, but the data for considerably shorter music videos is not so much. “The data we need to be even more granular, but these platforms are not set up with that in mind,” she said. “Mapping all that together and trying to make sense of it is definitely a challenge.”

Arnet suggested more sharing between parties to improve the data.

Hurd asked about distribution partners, and Stewart said a partnership has to be mutually beneficial for both the creator and the distributor. “There are so many FAST channels and so many platforms,” she said. “We have to figure out how our portfolio can complement theirs.”

Simon called the FAST forum “a really exciting space.”

He added, “There’s a huge opportunity for people who have good content.”