The FAST and the Curious  

The explosion of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST)-live channels has only accelerated in recent months as hundreds of new players enter this nascent and chaotic market. And it’s not just startups and indies. Major entertainment companies have all thrown their hats in the rings as well, which is why in January we added FAST-live coverage to our ADTRAKER® intelligence service with no idea what we might find in the data. The early results are telling. Our audits over the first couple of months revealed  large amounts of unfilled ad time, wide variations in ad minutes per hour, and considerable ad repetition, among other strange quirks. 

The audits, The audits, which covered NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Paramount Global’s Pluto TV, Roku’s The Roku Channell, Fox Corp.’s Tubi, and Comcast’s Xumo, logged a combined 30 hours per network, per provider, in five-hour blocks across six networks representing multiple genres in January and February. That’s a whopping 300 hours of viewing, with OTI’s initial research finding that: 

Unfilled ad time ate up 3.7 minutes of every hour of FAST-live programming on average, roughly half the ad blocks available; the amount of FAST-live advertising time per hour varies widely among providers, with the average hourly ad time ranging from 2.1  minutes to 5.6 minutes after excluding unfilled ad blocks; and Peacock ran the most ads during OTI’s audit period, with 739 ads, while Tubi and Xumo ran considerably fewer at 376 and 179, respectively. 

In addition, major advertisers like AT&T, The Home Depot, and McDonald’s are flocking to FAST-live platforms, but advertising promoting TV content was among the most prominent. Major FAST-live providers have also settled into a cadence of roughly five ad breaks per hour, favoring 15- and 30-second ads over longer form ads. And the frequency of ads that repeated within the audited five-hour blocks was high, ranging from 61% to 43% of all available ad time, excluding unfilled time. 

Next? We’ll learn more as we continue to audit these FAST-live services in the coming months, but OTI issued a special STREAMTRAK® report this week to dive more deeply into the specifics of what we found during these initial audits. We look forward to hearing your feedback, questions, and advice as we hone this exciting new area of ADTRAKER® coverage.

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