The Definitive Guide to FAST Channels: A Cost-Effective Way to Grow Your OTT Presence

The Definitive Guide to FAST Channels A Cost-Effective Way to Grow Your OTT Presence Image

Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) is the fastest-growing segment in the OTT landscape. According to TBI, FAST channel revenues are projected to reach $12 billion by 2027 in the US alone. 

Businesses that ignore this rapidly expanding market are missing out on a golden opportunity. FAST channels can help you reach a massive audience, boost brand awareness, and unlock new revenue streams.

What are FAST channels, exactly?

Simply put, they’re the digital version of traditional TV channels, with curated, linear programming delivered directly over the internet. The key difference? They’re completely free for viewers – funded by targeted advertising. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the basics of FAST channels and which OTT platforms are best for FAST distribution and monetization.

What Are FAST Channels?

Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV, or FAST, is quickly becoming the go-to choice for most online viewers. A FAST service is accessible through various platforms, including smart TVs, connected TV (CTV) devices like Apple TV, and even smartphones. 

With FAST, users can tune in to their chosen channel and enjoy the linear content without the hassle of choosing specific shows, like with AVOD or SVOD platforms. It’s like traditional TV for free. 

By 2027, Statista predicts that the number of users tuning into FAST channels will reach 79.8 million in the US. As of 2023, FAST providers collectively offer over 1,500 FAST channels catering to different interests and demographics.

Major industry players have also recognized the potential of FAST channels. ViacomCBS acquired Pluto TV, Fox acquired Tubi, and other companies like Amazon and Roku have launched their own FAST services – Amazon FreeVee and The Roku Channel.

A FAST channel is a linear channel streamed through CTV devices. Unlike traditional TV, they’re free to access for viewers, who watch intermittent ads in exchange for the content. This ad-supported model not only attracts a larger audience but also generates a lot more revenue for channel providers – it’s a win-win!

FAST providers are already using the power of their extensive user base to promote their content. A good example is ViacomCBS, which used PlutoTV, their FAST platform, to build anticipation for the reboot of their popular series “The Hills.” 

By dedicating a 24/7 channel to free reruns of previous seasons, they not only reintroduced the show to a new audience but also reignited interest in long-time fans. As a result, the show’s pilot had over 0.6 million views. 

Here’s a breakdown of how FAST channels work.

Content Curation

FAST channels curate a diverse selection of content from multiple sources, catering to all kinds of viewer preferences. This content includes movies, TV shows, documentaries, and other video formats. 

A recent survey by Whip Media revealed that movies and library TV titles (reruns) are the primary drivers of FAST viewership, with 71% of respondents watching films and 65% watching reruns of older comedies and dramas. 

To enhance the user experience and make it easier to discover new content, FAST channels also organize content into categories or genres. 

Scheduling and Programming

Much like traditional TV channels, FAST channels maintain a linear programming schedule. That means users tune in at specific times to watch their favorite content for free. Many viewers still value this traditional method of content discovery and consumption.

Ad Integration

FAST channels operate on an advertising-based revenue model, offering free-to-watch content in exchange for watching ads. This model is shockingly successful, with the global FAST market anticipated to reach $9.06 billion in 2024, according to Statista.

To maximize ad revenue and viewer engagement, many FAST channels also opt for targeted advertising. With the help of viewer data and preferences, these platforms deliver personalized ads that resonate with the audience. 


FAST channels are designed to be easily accessible across a variety of devices and platforms. 

Firstly, they’re available on smart TVs or through streaming devices like Roku Channel and Amazon Fire TV. This allows viewers to access FAST content through their preferred devices, whether it’s a smart TV, computer, or mobile device.

However, most FAST channel providers partner with OTT platforms. That means users can access FAST channels on free OTT platforms like Dacast, Pluto TV, Tubi, or Xumo alongside video-on-demand (VOD) content. 

Benefits of FAST Channels

FAST channels offer a win-win for both viewers and content creators. Viewers enjoy free access to their favorite content, while creators get access to wider audiences and monetize their work. Let’s look at some of the many benefits of FAST channels. 

Free Content

The main reason FAST channels are garnering such a higher viewership is the allure of free content. Sure, Netflix and Hulu are great platforms, but their subscription fees don’t fit into most people’s budgets. 

FAST channels attract a ton of users who want to watch TV for free, the old-school way. The only difference is that even with ads, traditional TV still comes at a cost. Meanwhile, FAST is 100% free – all the revenue comes from ads. 

That’s exactly why FAST channels are a cost-effective avenue for content creators and businesses to scale their reach and boost brand awareness. 

Ad Revenue

FAST channels get most of their revenue via advertising. Recent research predicts that connected TV (CTV) ad spending in the United States will reach $30 billion in 2026, a major increase from $18.89 billion in 2025.

For content publishers, this is a golden opportunity. More and more viewers are turning to FAST channels for free, ad-supported content. According to Statista, 27% of viewers spent 2–5 hours a week watching FAST channels, 14% spent 6–9 hours, and 10% spent 10+ hours. 

Publishers who attract a large viewership on FAST channels can cost-effectively monetize their content through targeted advertising.

Choice Paralysis

As paid streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime become the norm, users are experiencing what has been termed “choice paralysis.” A recent Nielsen study revealed that 70% of viewers spend an average of 10 minutes or more deciding what to watch, with 12% taking over 20 minutes. This struggle to select content leads to frustration, making the viewing experience a lot less enjoyable. 

Plus, more and more content is now fragment across multiple subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) services. That means users are forced to juggle multiple subscriptions. A 2023 Deloitte survey reported that 47% of US households subscribe to at least four streaming services

FAST channels are the perfect solution to this issue. By offering pre-programmed content, these channels get rid of the need for viewers to make difficult choices. They can simply tune in and enjoy. 

This explains why FAST platforms like Pluto TV see higher viewership during weekdays when users seek a more passive viewing experience – a 23% increase in weekday viewership compared to weekends.

FAST Channels vs. AVOD – What’s the Difference?

FAST channels and AVOD (Advertising-Based Video on Demand) might seem similar at first, but there are some key differences. Simply put, FAST and AVOD are two different types of content on OTT platforms. Both options are free. 

However, FAST channels are like traditional TV, with a linear schedule of shows you can’t choose. AVOD, on the other hand, lets you pick what to watch whenever you want, similar to Netflix or Hulu, but with ads.

FAST channels also often have niche content, like old TV shows or specific genres. AVOD usually has a wider variety of content, including newer movies and TV series.

FAST Channel Statistics

  • 41% of US households had embraced ad-supported streaming by Q3 2023. (MediaPost)
  • FAST channel revenues are projected to reach $12 billion by 2027 in the US alone. (TBI)
  • By 2027, the number of users tuning into FAST channels will reach 79.8 million in the US. (Statista)
  • 48% of US viewers watch FAST channels at least a few times each month. (Whip Media)
  • 78% of FAST viewers said they’re watching the same amount or more FAST content this year compared to last year. (Whip Media)
  • The global FAST market is anticipated to reach $9.06 billion in 2024. (Statista)
  • On average, 27% of viewers spent 2–5 hours a week watching FAST channels, 14% spent 6–9 hours, and 10% spent 10+ hours. (Statista)
  • Around 70% of viewers spend an average of 10 minutes or more deciding what to watch, with 12% taking over 20 minutes. (Nielsen)
  • At least 47% of US households subscribe to four or more streaming services. (Deloitte)

How to Set Up a FAST Channel on an OTT Platform

Setting up a FAST channel comes with a lot of technical requirements. 

First, you need content that viewers want to watch and a system to schedule and deliver that content like a regular TV channel. This means organizing your videos into a lineup, deciding when ads will play, and making sure everything runs smoothly on different devices.

You’ll also need to track how many people are watching, where they’re watching from, and how they’re interacting with your content. This data is key to attracting advertisers and making money.

But the most important thing is, you need a way to get your channel out there. This usually means partnering with an existing OTT platform to deliver your FAST channel content. 

What is an OTT Platform?

An Over-The-Top (OTT) platform is a digital service that delivers video content directly to viewers over the Internet. It bypasses traditional cable or satellite TV providers, so you can reach audiences on their terms through their preferred devices.

OTT technology is divided into two main categories:

Subscription-Based: These platforms, like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+, require viewers to pay a monthly fee for access to a large library of on-demand content. They typically offer high-quality original productions and exclusive content, and they don’t have ads, which is why they’re a top choice for many users. 

However, since streaming content is increasingly fragmented over multiple platforms, users are forced to pay three to four subscriptions. These costs add up, which is why viewers are turning to free ad-supported platforms. 

Free Ad-Supported: These platforms, like Pluto TV, Tubi, Freevee, or Roku Channel, offer a combination of AVOD and FAST channels. AVOD provides on-demand content with ad breaks, while FAST channels are much like traditional TV with a linear schedule and ads. These platforms are free for viewers, with revenue generated through advertising. 

6 Best OTT Platforms For Your FAST Channel

Ready to share your ad-supported content with the world? Here are six industry-leading OTT platforms to help you launch your FAST channel.

1. Dacast

dacast fast channels ott

Dacast is the top choice for professional broadcasters and content creators launching FAST channels. The unified OTT streaming platform is a seamless solution for live streaming and VOD hosting, making it easy to manage and deliver your content. 

With a robust suite of features tailored for FAST channel creation, Dacast allows you to reach a global audience securely and efficiently.

The platform’s password protection makes sure your content is only accessible to authorized users. Plus, Dacast’s user-friendly interface makes it easy and simple to distribute video content, so you can share your FAST channel across multiple devices and platforms. 

Key Features

Upload Guidelines and Specs

  • Minimum dimension: None 
  • Maximum dimension: 1080p or 4K 
  • Video aspect ratio: No restrictions
  • Max file size: None
  • Max video length: None
  • Total file storage: 10–1000GB
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV, MTS, M4V, M2V, AVI, VOB, MPG, FLV, WMV, MKV, WEBM, OGV, MXF, ASF.


Dacast’s live streaming pricing plans include the following:

  • Starter Plan: $39/month ( 2.4 TB bandwidth + 500 GB storage)
  • Event Plan: $63/month (6 TB bandwidth + 250 GB storage)
  • Scale Plan: $165/month (24 TB bandwidth/year + 2 TB storage)

Event and Scale users can also purchase custom plans for greater bandwidth needs. 

2. Vimeo OTT

video ott pricing
Vimeo offers four distinct pricing plans for broadcasters with different budgets.

Vimeo OTT allows users to create branded FAST  channels that align with their branding standards and match their content for a cohesive, professional look and user experience. 

Users can upload, host, and manage videos from a single dashboard. That includes streaming live events and creating dedicated websites for hosting video content. Vimeo OTT also supports multiple monetization models, such as subscription (SVOD), purchase or rental (TVOD), and ad-supported (AVOD) models. 

Key Features

  • Simulcasting and multistreaming support
  • Powerful security tools
  • Viewer engagement tools (polling and chat options)
  • Custom video gallery pages
  • White-label video player
  • In-house content delivery

Upload Guidelines and Specs

  • Recommended dimension: 720p (1280 x 720)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Max file size: 3GB
  • Max video length: Information not available
  • Total file storage: Information not available
  • Compatible video formats: MP4 (recommended)


3. Wowza

Wowza Live Streaming Platform

Wowza’s comprehensive OTT platform offers many robust features for professional broadcasting. Users can create highly customized streaming workflows through third-party integrations, APIs, and advanced tools. This makes it an excellent option for those seeking granular control and flexibility in their streaming setup.

Wowza supports FAST channel creation through its Wowza Streaming Engine. It allows users to create 24/7 streaming “channels” similar to broadcast TV. It also provides tools for scheduling streaming, inserting video ads, and managing live encoding tools and media players.

However, Wowza currently lacks built-in simulcasting tools, making it hard to distribute your content across multiple platforms at the same time. Its video analytics capabilities are also not as robust as some other platforms on this list.

Key Features

  • Cloud transcoding
  • Reliable customer support
  • Support for live streaming and VOD
  • All-device streaming with an HTML5 video player
  • White-label video player
  • API access available

Upload Guidelines and Specs

  • Minimum dimension: 240p (320 x 240)
  • Maximum dimension: 4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 or 4:3
  • Max file size: Not available
  • Max video length: Not available
  • Total file storage: 250 GB (varies by plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, FLV, MP3, AMLST, SMIL, ID3, NGRP


  • One Month of Streaming: $149 (one-time purchase)
  • Pay As You Go: Only pay for usage
  • Enterprise: Contact Wowza

4. Kaltura

kaltura ott platform

Kaltura is a powerful OTT streaming platform for launching your FAST channel, especially if you have a large content library and want a branded viewing experience. With its open-source foundation, Kaltura is highly flexible and customizable.

Beyond just hosting and content delivery, Kaltura’s robust cloud-based infrastructure also ensures reliable streaming and scalability to accommodate your growing audience. The platform mainly caters to educational institutions.

Kaltura allows users to create FAST channels through the My Channels page. Users can configure channel details such as name, description, and tags. Channels can be set to different privacy settings, including open, restricted, private, or shared repositories.

Key Features

  • Multi-bitrate and adaptive video streaming
  • Powerful security features
  • Monetization options (SVOD, AVOD, and TVOD) via integrations
  • Total video and player API access

Upload Guidelines and Specs

  • Minimum dimension: 180p (320 x 180)
  • Maximum dimension: 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 4:3
  • Max file size: 2 GBs
  • Max video length: Not available
  • Total file storage: 10GB to Unlimited (varies by plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MOV, MP4


Kaltura has tons of different pricing plans, so content publishers can mix and match to meet their exact needs. There are separate plans for webinars, video portals, video management consoles, and more. Contact Kaltura to get a quote.

5. IBM Cloud Video

IBM Cloud Video is a robust OTT platform backed by IBM’s technological expertise. It offers comprehensive video hosting capabilities for both live and on-demand content, along with recently added monetization tools to generate revenue from your FAST channel. 

If delivering a premium viewing experience is your top priority, IBM Cloud Video also offers support for 4K video streaming. Keep in mind that additional fees may apply for streaming at high resolutions. 

Plus, the platform’s accessibility tools are somewhat limited, with minimal closed captioning support.

Key Features

  • Powerful video analytics
  • Auto-archiving
  • Tools for boosting user engagement (including polling)
  • Tools for video monetization
  • Powerful content delivery

Upload Guidelines and Specs

  • Minimum dimension: 480p (480 x 270)
  • Maximum dimension:  4K (3840 x 2160)
  • Aspect ratio: No published aspect ratio
  • Max file size: 4 GB
  • Max video length: No published limits
  • Total file storage: 1TB to 5TB (varies by plan)
  • Compatible video formats: MKV, MP4, MOV, AVI, WMV, MPEG2, FLV, H264, THEORA, H263, MPEG4, VP6, VP8, WMV, MP3, AAC-LC, PCM, SPEEX, NELLYMOSER, VORBIS, WMA


  • Silver: $147/month
  • Gold: $736/month
  • Premium: $1,477/month

6. Brightcove

Brightcove cloud video platform

Brightcove is a reliable, Boston-based OTT platform with an expansive set of tools designed for FAST channel creation. Their cloud video hosting platform has all the features you need to not only launch but thrive in the competitive streaming industry. 

While primarily focused on business video hosting, users can also create customized Brightcove packages to meet their specific FAST channel creation needs.

Brightcove has recently partnered with Frequency to create linear channels for distribution to FAST aggregators. This integration allows Brightcove users to seamlessly create, launch, and manage FAST channels for maximum reach and revenue.

However, Brightcove can be pretty expensive and does not currently support video delivery in China.

Key Features

  • Monetization tools
  • Access to top-tier CDNs for global content delivery
  • Video API access
  • Multi-bitrate and adaptive bitrate streaming
  • Advanced security features
  • Basic tech support

Upload Guidelines and Specs

  • Minimum dimension: Varies by user
  • Maximum dimension: Varies by user
  • Aspect ratio: No restrictions (Brightcove uses a responsive player)
  • Max file size: No limits 
  • Max video length: No limits
  • Total file storage: Varies by plan
  • Compatible video formats: MP4, MOV, FLV, AVI, WMV, MKV, 3GPP


Contact Brightcove to get an exact quote based on your needs.

Why Choose Dacast’s OTT Platform

Dacast’s OTT platform is your one-stop shop for launching and managing your FAST channel. The robust ad insertion capabilities support multiple formats and even integrate with leading ad networks, so you can monetize your FAST content effortlessly. 

Plus, you don’t just have to stick to linear programming – Dacast’s OTT platform can also deliver video-on-demand (VOD) content with ad breaks. Your content will be stored and displayed in our Expo Video Gallery so your viewers can access your ad-supported content anytime. Most importantly, our white-label branding options ensure your channel reflects your unique brand identity.

Since Dacast works with top-tier content delivery networks, you can make your content available to a global audience. Plus, our HTML5 video player allows you to broadcast directly to mobile phones. Combine that with our monetization tools, and it won’t be long until your FAST channel turns into your primary revenue stream.


FAST channels are a golden opportunity to tap into a growing audience of cord-cutters and budget-conscious viewers. With 48% of US viewers tuning in at least a few times each month, the potential for reach and engagement is undeniable.

The most important step is choosing the right OTT platform to power your FAST channel. Dacast, with its all-encompassing features and affordable pricing, is the perfect starting point for broadcasters and content publishers to establish a strong presence in the OTT landscape.

You can try Dacast and all its features with our 14-day free trial.


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Jon Whitehead

Jon is the Chief Operating Officer at Dacast. He has over 20 years of experience working in Digital Marketing with a specialty in AudioVisual and Live Streaming technology.