Market Moves: FAST Channels are Dominating Major Media Company Strategies

The latest moves from major media companies are looking especially linear lately.

FAST Channels are Dominating Major Media Company Strategies

By Max Newfield | April 23, 2024

Ten years ago, Paramount gambled on an unheard of business model called “FAST channels.” What may have seemed like a bizarre group of television-like, single-content channels is now called Pluto TV and the billion-dollar company just ran its first Super Bowl ad this year.

To celebrate Pluto’s aluminum anniversary, Tom Ryan, CEO of Paramount Streaming and co-founder of Pluto TV, spoke with Fast Company about the evolution of, well, FAST. (Paramount née ViacomCBS purchased PlutoTV in 2019)

“We realized people would not lean back and watch for the amount of time we needed them to watch for when it was short-form content stitched together. They would also not do that on web and mobile, so we needed to pivot. We did something that looked a lot more like—ironically—traditional TV, which was long-form, more premium-television-like programming, and then delivered it to the living room on the actual television through connected TVs.”

The entire interview is fascinating but the most relevant portion for content owners comes at the very end when Ryan emphasizes Paramount’s commitment to FAST in its streaming growth plans.

“There’s huge headroom here in the U.S. I think we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to the FAST opportunity in the U.S. I think a lot of people still don’t fully appreciate what an amazing complementary value they get from a FAST service like Pluto TV to complement whatever it is that they’re doing for their other TV viewing, whether that be paid streaming or whether that be cable TV.”

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how other media companies are strategizing for a FAST-forward world.


Disney has long been a bellwether in audience demands–just ask any adult their favorite Marvel hero or child their favorite princess. So with that being said, if the House of Mouse is looking into FAST channels then you should be too.

The revamped Disney Plus app could soon feature always-on channels dedicated to Star Wars and Marvel shows, according to a report from The Information. The channels, which are reportedly similar to those on free ad-supported streaming services like Pluto or Tubi, could take away the choice when it comes to picking out what to watch next.

In addition to Star Wars and Marvel series, Disney’s lineup of channels could feature stations that continuously stream Disney’s classic animated films or movies from Pixar, The Information reports. Even though viewers would need a Disney Plus subscription to tune in to the channels, they will likely still contain ads — just like traditional television.” (from The Verge April 14, 2024)

Warner Bros. Discovery

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is looking for “the right time” to launch its own FAST offerings, but it’s gone all-in on FAST-based partnerships.

At the beginning of 2023, WBD launched partnerships with Roku and Tubi to create FAST channels featuring everything from “Westworld” to “FBoy Island.”

Since then, the company has launched dozens of global FAST channels with everyone from startups to stalwarts like Amazon and Samsung TV Plus.

Warner Bros. Discovery is licensing 37 new free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels to Amazon’s Freevee.

Sixteen of the new channels launch today, December 5, with some of the lead-in titles including CNN Headlines, Bachelor Nation, The FBI, Say Yes to the Dress, Warner Bros. TV – Generation Drama and more. There are a total of nine WBD-branded FAST channels joining the platform this month. The remaining 21 channels, which include a mix of Discovery and WBD studio content, are set to drop on the platform in early 2024.”

The set of channels builds from an earlier deal announced over the summer that launched 11 WBD channels on the service (as well as other licensed channels from MGM), aiding in Amazon’s goal of growing Freevee’s FAST channel slate by 75% in 2023.” (from StreamTV Insider December 5, 2023)

BBC News

Speaking of global FAST strategy, Britain’s most beloved broadcaster is getting into the game. In March, AMC Networks and BBC Studios announced a 24-hour live news channel available in the US. It’s a strategic move that represents yet another play for audience share beyond the British Isles.

This is a significant milestone for the BBC as this launch will more than double the current reach and availability of the BBC News channel in the U.S. at a time when access to independent news and information is more important than ever,” said Tara Maitra, Chief Commercial Officer, Global and Streaming, BBC Studios. “We’re proud to launch this channel with the support of so many leading partners as we continue to expand the footprint of BBC News and bring the BBC’s journalism to wider audiences in the region.

The move into the buzzy FAST space, which has dominated chatter at recent TV markets, is evidence of the BBC flexing its commercial muscles. BBC Studios recently bought out ITV’s share of streamer BritBox International for $322M. It operates numerous commercial channels abroad and makes money via its production and distribution arm.” (from Deadline March 13, 2024)

Sony Pictures Entertainment

Sony is one of the largest studios without a dedicated streaming service so its focus on FAST-channels as a quick and reliable source of audience attention is especially noteworthy. The legacy media studio has rolled out multiple FAST channels in recent years, but recently made a huge push into the European market with the launch of more than 50 channels featuring the likes of “Seinfeld,” “Breaking Bad,” and beyond.

The 54 channels include Sony One Comedy TV featuring the likes of The Nanny and The Goldbergs, Sony One Faves with timeless classics such as Dawson’s Creek and Sony One Shark Tank showcasing the long-running reality series.

Sony Pictures recognizes the potential of the free ad-supported television space to engage new viewers globally with our extensive feature film and TV series catalog spanning 100 years,” said Pete Wood, SVP, Digital Sales, Distribution, SPE. “Our entry into the FAST space in Europe reflects our dedication to making premium content accessible to audiences on new and important distribution channels.” (from Deadline March 26, 2024)


The beloved arthouse and indie home-video company has made major streaming strides of late with the Criterion Channel. And just this week, the outsider artists behind your favorite 4k restoration launched an honest-to-goodness FAST channel, Criterion 24/7.

The channel is a 24-hour stream of every indie, international, and experimental film within the Criterion Channel. It’s a notable shakeup for a company that built its name on film preservation and the celebration of physical media. No results have been published but anecdotal evidence from Letterboxd is resoundingly positive:


The original titans of streaming are still resoundingly committed to its SVOD ways, which makes its one linear experiment all the more noteworthy.

In November of 2020, Netflix launched Direct in France to test the digital waters in scheduled programming. No news on expanded offerings since then but Wired did wonder aloud if Direct was the future of streaming. Everyday it seems more and more likely that the answer is “yes.”

If you need help building your company’s FAST channel strategy, schedule time to talk with us here at Matchpoint HQ. Our suite of technology products–along with our decades of streaming expertise–can help you launch your streaming business in weeks not months.

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