A Global View of FAST

Free, ad-supported streaming television got its start in the United States but it’s now a global – and growing – market.

Global Streaming FAST TV

By Max Newfield | April 11, 2024

FAST channels have exploded in popularity over the last decade and it turns out that–brace yourself here–people really like free and convenient content to watch across all of their devices.

There are currently nearly 2000 FAST channels operating in the United States and it’s expected to be a $9 billion industry by the end of 2024.

And while it’s estimated that one in three Americans regularly watch a FAST provider and some experts predict FAST will eclipse subscription-based streaming services by 2030, FAST isn’t just a U.S.-based phenomenon. Though American channels and American viewers dominate it,  it’s a growing global market that’s expanding rapidly in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere.

So let’s ask a question that has vexed programmers and advertisers alike for over 100 years… What is everyone watching? What countries use FAST channels the most? And, most importantly, what does the future hold?

RELATED ARTICLE: The History of FAST Channels

Global FAST Growth Outpaces the United States

In just four years, FAST has experienced unprecedented growth. In 2020, the United States had a little over 400 FAST channels. Now, that number is at 1995 and counting. Experts predict this growth will continue with the FAST industry hitting $11.83 billion in market volume by 2027 but they also expect international markets to grow the fastest.

According to a report from Amagi, the U.S. FAST channels grew just 5% in HOV (Hours of Viewing) between Q4 2022 to Q4 2023. Those numbers lag compared to the massive uptick in places like Asia-Pacific (130%), Europe, the Middle East and Africa (65%), and Latin America (64%).

Still, the United States dominates the FAST channel space. According to research from Omdia, the U.S. currently makes up 87% of global FAST Channel revenue. However, with the growth in international markets that number will lower to 84% by 2027.

Where FAST Thrives

Omdia’s annual Global FAST report predicts what will be the five leading markets in the FAST channel space behind the United States in 2027: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Brazil. Between 2019 and 2022, FAST revenue outside of the US grew almost 50 times in that span.

By 2027, Omdia expects the United Kingdom’s FAST market will be worth over $500 million by 2027 with English-speaking countries like Canada and Australia coming in at $300 million. That said, this growth presents an opportunity for non-English programming. The growth in Canada Germany and Brazil will bring in opportunities for French, German, and Portuguese-language content. Elsewhere in Latin America, Omdia expects FAST revenue to exceed $200 million by 2027, and Spanish-language content will be king.

What are these markets watching?

Many of the FAST channels offered in the United States are also available in several other markets globally like Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, DistroTV, LG, and more. Germany offers Rakuten, a Europe-leading service while the U.K.’s ITV entered the space in 2022 with ITVX, which hosts 20 channels and offers ITV programming like Hell’s Kitchen, Inspector Morse, and The Chase.

While many of the same players operate around the world, viewing habits are different. In the US, local news is the top FAST channel genre is the US according to Amagi, beating out movies, entertainment, and sports. Asian consumers tend to also prefer news but in Europe, documentary channels reign supreme while movies dominate in Latin America.

What does all of this mean for you?

As more and more people around the world tune into FAST channels, the streaming entertainment landscape will shift. Competition among the nearly 2000 operating FAST channels will raise the quality of the product and users will continue to cancel expensive subscription-based OTT services.

Audiences crave convenience and budget-friendly alternatives. If FAST channels can bring quality and consistency, the possibilities are endless. Look to emerging and underserved markets who might be hungry for your content.

Most importantly, as audiences grow across the world, more data will become available to both programmers and advertisers. Now is the time to ask the right questions about your audiences, and make sure you have both the tech stack and expert partners to answer them.

Let’s Talk

If you are a content business owner and are looking to find a diverse, international audience in this exciting and thriving marketplace then schedule a demo today! Our experts can show you how to launch and grow your streaming business, and reach audiences worldwide.

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