Last week nScreenMedia reported new research that found the U.S. free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) industry will reach 216 million monthly active users in 2023.
Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst at nScreenMedia, explained that FAST services deliver virtual linear channels. vLinear is kind of a hybrid between traditional linear TV and streaming platforms that offer video on demand. FAST uses streaming technology, but its programming is on a regular schedule, rather than on demand.
Dixon said the number one FAST platform is Pluto TV. “It was one of the first companies to launch their service more than 10 years ago,” he said.
Pluto TV has more than doubled its monthly active users over the last two years. Pluto was purchased by Viacom CBS, and it also distributes through some smart TV platforms, including LG and Samsung.
Dixon said the hottest thing in the FAST/vLinear realm is the entrance of smart TV makers. “Smart TVs have really been leading the FAST growth right now,” he said.
TV makers such as Samsung, LG and Vizio have created their own FAST platforms. When people buy a new smart TV the first thing the TV asks them to do is connect to the internet. As soon as they do, they can start streaming channels; and the TV makers are promoting their own channels such as Samsung TV+ and LG Channels.
“That is driving a lot of the growth of the FAST industry now,” said Dixon, who added that there’s quite a lot of available FAST content.