I was at the CTAM Europe Symposium in London yesterday where, together with excellent guests from Samsung TV Plus, Vevo and Virgin Media, I moderated a panel about FAST. Yes, another one.

If you detect some weariness in my tone it’s because – at least for Europe – I’m a bit of FAST sceptic.

For the US, I get it.

  • It’s a large, unified territory of over 300 million people who predominantly speak English
  • More cord-cutting has created a ripe environment for free ad-supported TV
  • For those (the majority?) who still watch TV via set-top boxes, OEMs like Samsung, Roku and Vizio present FAST channels in their EPGs
  • And the US has a highly developed ad market that readily adapts to new media platforms

In Europe, by contrast, we’re looking at:

  • A diverse landscape of multiple languages, cultures and viewing behaviours
  • A wider, more fragmented scene in terms of pay windows and content networks
  • Stricter regulations around advertising
  • And more variability in the types and penetration of streaming devices

All of which has slowed down the rollout and adoption of FAST services compared to the US.

Reinforcing this opinion (or perhaps bias), one of our other panellists yesterday, Tim Westcott from Omdia, presented a fascinating slide which forecasts that whereas FAST revenues in the States will climb from $6.8bn this year to $10.7bn in 2028, FAST income for the whole of Europe that year would only be around $1bn.

Now look, $1bn is a big number, certainly not to be sniffed at, but still relatively modest compared to, say, ITV’s £1.93bn ad revenue in 2022.

Given those figures, why is the industry so fixated on FAST? Why does the subject still get so much coverage?

In short, can we stop talking about FAST now?

The answer to that is surely no. Why? Three reasons.

First, $1bn is still a big number. And working on the 80/20 rule, a handful of companies are going to make a lot of money from FAST.

Second, the pie is getting bigger. One of Tim Westcott’s other slides suggested that in Europe, online video advertising is growing faster than SVOD and would climb from £12bn in 2020 to $34bn in 2028 (a CAGR of 9.5%).

And finally, whilst I suspect that SVOD will eventually experience something of a renaissance, digital ad-supported TV (in all its forms) is currently dominant in strategic thinking and discussion if not in revenue.

FAST isn’t going away but am I converted? Have I seen the light?

Maybe just a glimmer.


Kauser Kanji has been working in online video for 19 years, formerly at Virgin Media, ITN and NBC Universal, and founded VOD Professional in 2011. He has since completed major OTT projects for, amongst others, A+E Networks, the BBC, BBC Studios, Channel 4, DR (Denmark), Liberty Global, Netflix, Sony Pictures, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and UKTV. He now writes industry analyses, hosts an online debate show, OTT Question Time, as well as its in-person sister event, OTT Question Time Live

Get OTT Briefings Every Week!

Sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date with stories, analysis, events and reports from VOD Pro.