Comcast Urges Advertisers to Buy into FAST

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Free ad-supported streaming TV channels are now in six out of ten US households as consumers realise the value of having a TV-like viewing experience without the costs required for payTV or SVOD. 

In a report designed to focus advertiser attention on its own FAST service Xumo, Comcast finds that FAST penetration has more than doubled year-over-year. 

Unsurprisingly the report "Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV: Why More Advertisers (and Consumers) Are Going F.A.S.T" recommends FAST advertising as a complement to traditional TV and streaming advertising. It suggests that streaming advertising (including FAST and other forms like AVOD which offers non-linear content) should make up about 20-30% of the overall investment for multi-screen campaigns. 

The report claims: “For advertisers, FAST provides a unique opportunity to reach cord-cutters while they are ‘scrolling,’ ‘channel surfing’ and discovering new content--a prospect not possible through ad-free services like Netflix, or even from ad-supported on-demand services like Crackle.” 

FAST provides like Tubi and Pluto are reaching consumers with news, entertainment, sports, and more in an environment that mimics linear TV and is often built right into a TV manufacturer’s interface (including smart TVs from Samsung, LG, TCL, Roku, Sony). Such services are also distributed on major OTT devices (Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, Tivo and more), and even multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) like Xfinity.  

Despite the range of viewing options, Comcast finds more than 80% of time spent with FAST services is on the biggest screen in the house. This suggests that consumers still value the lean-back experience traditionally associated with linear TV.  

“Many consumers may be landing on F.A.S.T. channels without even realising it, as many are programmed directly into the channel guide by TV manufacturers,” it says. 

The report only surveys usage of Xumo. Some key stats in this regard are that the average Xumo  user spends about 104 minutes within the platform once they have entered. Some 70 percent of Xumo users are cord cutters, using it alongside SVOD services. Of those 77% also subscribe to Netflix, 80% subscribe to Hulu and 65% subscribe to Prime Video. 

According to research by Comcast’s ad platform FreeWheel, CTV accounted for 63% of total digital ad views in the second half of 2021 across all services. 

It also quotes eMarketer research predicting that ad-supported streaming will generate $19.1 billion in the U.S this year. By 2024, marketers will spend $29.5 billion on CTV advertising.  

Comcast points to evidence that three quarters of consumers think ads on streaming services are fine as long as the content was free and that 69% already use, would use or would consider replacing paid streaming services with ad-supported streaming services.  

Consumers also appreciate that FAST providers typically do not crowd their content with too much advertising, it states.

“As advertisers look to efficiently maximise their reach in an increasingly fragmented viewing landscape, FAST services are a valuable complement to traditional TV and other AVOD streaming options as part of a holistic multi-screen media plan,” said James Rooke, president of Comcast Advertising in a prepared statement. 

Also quoted is Amanda Garcia, Senior Director of Partnerships at Paramount+; “As customers find more ways to watch the content they love across a mix of services, FAST channels have become a key part of our media mix for acquisition and awareness, as well as targeted campaigns to super-serve key audiences.” 

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