6 JUN 2024

One in three American adults watches FAST channels during peak primetime hours

The data comes from the Xumo 2024 FAST Report, which reveals shifting habits toward free and easy streaming. It collected responses from 4,000 U.S. adults among varied age, gender and ethnicity groups between the third quarter of 2023 to the first quarter of 2024.

6 JUN 2024

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Xumo - a joint venture between Comcast and Charter- together with FASTMaster Consulting, released a new research report, 2024 FAST Market Update. Taking an in-depth look at viewers’ engagement with free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST), the report provides the industry, including content owners and advertisers, with meaningful insights into the role FAST plays in consumers’ evolving entertainment decisions. It offers insight into topics like who is watching, when and how much they watch, why they watch, and how FAST viewing compares to other major forms of entertainment. The data in the report is from a market research project Xumo commissioned with FASTMaster Consulting, which collected responses from 4,000 U.S. adults among varied age, gender and ethnicity groups between the third quarter of 2023 to the first quarter of 2024.

Stefan Van Engen, Vice President, Content Programming and Partnerships, Xumo emphasized that the report highlights the growth of FAST: "The findings of this report underscore the increasingly important role FAST plays in today’s entertainment landscape, dispelling myths and highlighting the diverse, engaged, and growing audience that finds value in our free and easy streaming. As engagement levels during primetime rival other major forms of entertainment, it’s clear that FAST is becoming a part of people’s everyday lives;" stated.

Despite being a relative newcomer to the entertainment landscape, the findings reveal FAST is becoming a primary means of entertainment for today’s consumers, with a third of American adults saying they regularly watch FAST channels during peak primetime hours. Additionally, time spent watching FAST channels is on par with other forms of entertainment. Specifically, the average FAST viewer spends one hour and 40 minutes watching FAST channels in the evening, whereas a gamer typically spends one hour and 42 minutes playing video or mobile games during this same timeframe. Consumers also said they scroll social media for one hour and 53 minutes, while cable TV customers spend one hour and 58 minutes watching cable network programming.

On his part, Gavin Bridge, Chief Analyst, FASTMaster Consulting argues that the study serves to demystify: "There are many myths about FAST which are often bandied about by external onlookers, such as FAST viewers watch because they have no alternatives or they are a less desirable consumer for advertisers. I am very happy that Xumo has sought to address this via research into who watches FAST, dispelling false narratives with facts and illustrating why FAST continues to grow and needs to be part of any marketer’s toolkit to maximize reach," explained.

Other findings of the report explore topics like the who, what and why of FAST viewing. Firstly,  pay TV customers watch more FAST than cord-cutters or cord-nevers: nearly half (47%) of consumers that subscribe to a pay-TV service say they also regularly watch FAST. In comparison, 46% of cord-cutters report being regular viewers of FAST, while only 35% of cord-nevers say they do. FAST viewers trend younger and more diverse. While 46% of the U.S. adult population is between the ages of 18 and 44 according to the U.S. census, 58% of FAST viewers fall within that range. Additionally, Black viewers represent 20% of FAST’s audience, compared to 14% of the U.S. population. Similarly, 23% of FAST viewers have Latino origins, compared to 19% nationally.

And what do FAST viewers watch? They have a higher preference for news, movies, and crime TV. These genres make up 58% of total viewing hours on Xumo Play, despite representing only 11% of the total channels. Finally, entertainment emerges as the main reason consumers prefer FAST. Nearly 70% of FAST users say they can always find something to watch on free streaming channels. FAST is becoming a top choice for many viewers, with more than half of FAST users saying it is one of their favorite forms of entertainment.