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Improve Margins, Reduce Risk: Drive FAST Channel Content Prep With Your Optimized Media Supply Chain

Free Ad-supported Streaming TV (FAST) channels are gaining popularity with today’s viewers, offering them the free content they want in a lean-back experience reminiscent of traditional linear television.

According to the latest industry report from Amagi, a leader in cloud-based SaaS technology for broadcast and connected TV (CTV), demand for free content is driving growth of FAST. Amagi’s Quarterly Global FAST Report also notes that the U.S. is the leading FAST market overall, standing at a connected TV (CTV) penetration rate of 80.6%. As more and more viewers invest in CTVs — and use them to tune into FAST channels — potential audiences worldwide will continue to grow.

FAST channel revenue grew almost 20 times between 2019 and 2022, and it is set to triple between 2022 and 2027 to reach $12 billion, according to Omdia. So, it’s no wonder that growing numbers of media companies are eager to explore the possibilities of FAST channels for monetizing their content archives and engaging broader audiences.

Giving Content Libraries New Life

“Content delivery via a FAST channel offers media companies an incredible way to monetize a back catalog or content archive, often bringing old TV shows alive,” says Srinivasan KA, co-founder and chief revenue officer at Amagi. “Working with the right technology partners and platforms, content owners can quickly and cost-effectively build a FAST channel to promote that content and sell ads around it. A good cloud media supply chain can make launching and managing FAST channels quick, efficient, and cost effective.”

As my colleague at Amagi suggests, FAST channels have the power to bring new life to content archives. In addition to being infinitely programmable, these channels can be highly targeted in terms of topic or interest area. (Just recently, I saw that “Say Yes to the Dress” is going to have its own FAST channel.) This means that media companies can provide niche programming from their libraries to smaller groups of interested viewers while offering original or first-view content to larger audiences on their premier linear or subscription services.

FAST channels offer a fresh way to leverage owned assets. But because these channels operate on slimmer margins, media companies must move content through processing and preparation to delivery as quickly and economically as possible.

Bringing Essential Efficiency to the Process

Like content destined for any other platform, programs being monetized on FAST channels must be formatted and enhanced for modern viewers. Common processing tasks include “uprezzing” from SD to HD, performing color correction, eliminating noise, or even manipulating the content itself, especially for older shows. Metadata for that content must be managed and delivered too.

The more these processing steps can be orchestrated and automated as part of an optimized media supply chain, the better a media company can maximize the revenue potential of content delivered via FAST channels.

Users of the Rally media supply chain platform can choose from a variety of best-in-class tools for file transformation, QC, and other tasks, spinning them up and down as needed. One example of these on-demand tools is Cinnafilm’s Dark Energy application, which makes premier noise reduction technology available for convenient, on-demand file transforms. As a company brings archived content to the screen once again, Dark Energy and other advanced technologies available on the Rally platform make it easy and affordable to deliver content that meets the standards of modern viewing audiences.

Leveraging Existing Workflow for the Win

Ideally, the supply chain and workflows already set up to handle a media company’s premium content can simply be adapted and leveraged to accelerate processing of archived content for playout on FAST channels. (This is the case with Rally-managed supply chains.) With even more outputs supported by its existing infrastructure for media preparation, a media organization realizes even better utilization of that resource.

Rather than set up new on-premises infrastructure to support a venture into the FAST market, an organization can take advantage of its established media supply chain to feed that new venture. With the benefit of scalable cloud infrastructure, the organization can even explore pop-up channels related to special events or surrounding marquee events on premium channels or services. With no up-front cost and a low penalty for failing fast, it’s an approach that minimizes both the time and cost of content preparation. For a new FAST channel, it makes wins more lucrative and losses less costly.

For media companies with large content libraries and the desire to monetize those assets on new distribution platforms, an optimized media supply chain is a powerful enabler. Working with the Rally media supply chain management platform, companies can adapt with agility to embrace this opportunity. Leveraging existing workflows and infrastructure, they can scale and accelerate content preparation while maintaining cost efficiency essential to success.

Want to dig deeper into the process of optimizing your media supply chain for FAST channel delivery?  Check out our new Solution Brief with partners Venera, Cinnafilm, and Amagi.

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