With the boom in attention on free ad-supported television, Papercup’s Future of FAST Parts 1-3 took a lay of the land, giving content owners and distributors trends and strategies for 2023 and beyond.
To put these insights into action, here’s a step-by-step guide to increase viewership, improve engagement, and maximize returns.
1. Diversify content acquisition by niche-ing down
- Improve the discoverability of content by acquiring media with niche but strong engagement.
- Big wins can come from acquiring content that meets an underserved need. e.g., DistroTV's Spanish-language channels in the US.
- With providers like PlutoTV reorganizing channel categories to improve viewer retention, having demonstrably popular content with loyal viewership will increase the chances of content being featured.
- By placing bets across big hitters and more niche content, content owners and distributors can improve their monetization chances.
- Plus, niche channels that appeal to specific audience demographics provide hugely valuable targeting opportunities: some advertisers will pay more for this access.
- A robust long-tail content strategy is less expensive than exclusively competing with prestige originals or big studio partnerships. (And both are required for a future-proofed strategy).
"Embracing specialization and FAST is the key to maximizing the value of legacy content" — Fred Santarpia for Variety.
2. Acquire content in genres and formats popular on FAST
- Acquire shows with large back-catalogs or produce content bundles that can fit under one genre or theme (e.g., PlutoTV Terror or Impact Wrestling).
- Look for content in high-demand genres. Food, recipes, and home renovation content are safe bets: in 2021, entertainment channels saw the greatest increase on FAST platforms.
- Prioritize content that will improve audience hours of viewing (HOV) - i.e., content with long run times and low repeatability. (Unsolved Mysteries and Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting do well for a reason).
3. Diversify content format by paying attention to streaming innovations
- Don’t overlook monetization options for content beyond old movies or series. Draw from other owned media and maximize revenue from under-utilized formats.
- FAST is a great way to monetize clips that might struggle to find a home elsewhere. Stitched-together short news videos, for example, can be very profitable - news is the top-performing FAST genre in the world and is especially popular in the US and APAC.
- Consider other factual and/or reality content, too, like short-form cooking shows or influencer-led minisodes.
- Factor in the demand for specific formats among different demographics. In the US, for example, over 1/5th of Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z consider short-form video content ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ important (Statista).
4. Build an audience on social
- Consider building audiences on owned channels to prove there's demand for content before moving to larger FAST platforms.
- Building out a marketing plan and/or a content hosting platform can help distributors stand out in a market filled with FAST platform originals and big studio partnerships.
- Owners/distributors that can evidence a high degree of appeal among a specific demographic or interest group can negotiate higher rates for content licenses.
- Developing a social strategy can also help content owners/distributors build a recognizable brand.
5. Adopt different strategies across the content lifetime
- Adopt a shared window approach to maximize revenue while platforms look to first runs, exclusives, and originals as differentiators.
- Look at content's long-tail revenue potential; negotiate higher rates for first-watch licenses.
- Consider adopting time-bound exclusive distribution windows.
- Evaluate which FAST services can offer the best content distribution terms. Weigh up platform maturity, audience size, and niche expertise.
- Continually evaluate license agreements to capitalize on the best revenue options.
6. Build relationships with several FAST platforms
- Don’t rely on one distribution channel.
- Maintain relationships with platform curators. Understand how they work with existing content catalogs and when they attempt acquisitions (see this handy insight from PlutoTV).
- Do market research to understand which platforms and channel programmers have a taste for what content.
- Pluto TV, for example, splits Channel Editors by genre and usually region. Programming Manager Brian Rodriguez started as the platform’s AM News Channel Editor covering CNN and News 24/7 in 2017; Channel Editor Benjamin Dolly primarily covers sports channels.
- At Tubi, on the other hand, VP Samuel Harowitz has roll-up responsibility for all third-party licensed programming acquisitions and partnerships.
- Weigh up the benefits of niche vs. more mainstream providers. A niche long-tail provider could come with particularly devoted audiences and give content better visibility.
7. Look to opportunities outside of the US
- Plan ahead for increased US FAST competition.
- Look for new markets with high CPMs and the opportunity to reach large viewerships (e.g., EMEA and LATAM).
- Look for opportunities to reuse content to maximize ROI. For example, LATAM-Spanish content aimed at US audiences can be distributed to LATAM communities abroad.
- Prioritize markets where FAST providers are planning further rollouts. E.g., in LATAM and Europe, where demand for FAST services is proven, platforms are actively building content catalogs, and having content featured is more likely.
- Move soon to be an early adopter and avoid market crowding.
8. Consider how demand for particular genres varies by region
- Consider which markets have the most demand for the content type on offer.
- In LATAM, for example, movies and food content produce maximum viewership figures and ad impressions. Documentaries perform well in EMEA and news in APAC (Amagi).
- Pay attention to demographics over- or under-served in each market.
9. Use AI dubbing to localize for new markets and to pilot rollouts to new regions
- Use AI dubbing to pilot audience response to content in new markets.
- Meet dubbing requirements at a fraction of the time and cost of studio dubbing.
- Better engage new audiences to increase content success and revenue.