The State of U.S. FAST
January 2023 Update
Hello everyone and welcome to the first FAST update of the new year. January always brings with it a decline in channels as most holiday pop-ups are taken down and packed away until the following November. Despite that, many services managed to have more channels than they had in December, as can be seen below.
Roku is set to be the second service operator to join the 400 club, which I would imagine will take place next month.
There are now six services offering 300 or more channels in the U.S. At the same time last year, Pluto was the only member of this club, and it shows how FAST is both attracting more channels and is being seen by more companies as an important string to the bow in terms of maximizing reach and revenue.
I only go off of the channel listings that LG publishes for LG Channels+ but based on that, the service continues to shed channels at an alarming rate (103 since October). If anyone knows what’s going on there…
ViX also cut a number of channels (total counts are down by 20) but that may be more of removing some that had played out, especially as they are often single-series channels based upon novelas.
Now that the MLS has entered into its rights deal with Apple, the MLS channel (which had improved a lot in the last year) is no longer available on Pluto. I had wondered what would happen, and now we know.
Roku has launched a number of channels branded as "<Genre> On Demand”, which is interesting as FAST channels are linear and not on demand, but also because of the strange placement of these in the channel lineups. The most startling was “Action Packed On Demand” in the middle of the music section.
Here’s the historical chart tracking FAST since October 2019 in the U.S. LG’s big dip is really noticeable, as is the recent growth of Freevee (I expect that growth to see Freevee overtake Tubi and, on current trends, LG, by next month in terms of channels offered).
I’m going to be at Prime Time 2023 in Ottawa between Feb 1-3. If I don’t end up looking like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining (frozen in the field, not the bit when he was always in the picture of the hotel staff from the 1920s) and you are there, say hello! I’ll be participating in a “Coffee with…” meeting on 2/2 in the afternoon and then hosting a panel on FAST in the morning of 2/3 before a frantic dash to the airport to catch the last direct flight to NYC.
Also, these people are kind to me and recommend this newsletter to their readers, so allow me to do the same for them:
Marion Ranchet, European FAST guru, runs Streaming Made Easy which has weekly updates and a great look at things from a European POV.
Yann Colleter writes The Streaming Lab, which is full of facts and information on the state of FAST in MENA and some European focus too.
Both of these are very much worth a follow if you want to be as plugged in as possible for FAST outside of the United States.
That’s all for now, if you are in the U.S. enjoy the cold day off for MLK Day, and if you’re elsewhere, have a great rest of your day. Thanks for reading!