17 OCT 2023

Why is programming so important in driving increases in FAST viewership?

Audiences are embracing FAST, with nearly half of US viewers already watching FAST channels and most watching the same or more FAST content in the past year, according to a new Whip Media report, conducted in partnership with Mipcom Cannes.

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Audiences are embracing FAST, with nearly half of US viewers already watching FAST channels and most watching the same or more FAST content in the past year. Programming is driving these increases in FAST viewership, indicating the importance of matching the right content with the right audience, according to a new Whip Media report, conducted in partnership with Mipcom Cannes.

The study mentions that TV fans are getting used to FAST offerings – and that makes viewer data all the more important for FAST channel providers. FAST, or free ad-supported streaming television, is one of the fastest-growing segments of the entertainment industry, both in the United States and abroad. The data makes that clear: nearly half (48%) of US viewers watch FAST channels at least a few times per month, and of those viewers, seven out of ten said that FAST channels were at least sometimes their first choice when it comes to how they watch their content.

In the past year, 78% of FAST viewers said they are watching the same amount of FAST content or more, and 71% of respondents said the reason they watched more FAST content this year was due to “programming.”  Regarding that, there are two kinds of content driving FAST viewership above all else in the United States: movies and library TV titles (reruns). According to Whip Media’s survey data, 71% of respondents said they watch films on FAST channels, up from 54% a year ago, and 65% of respondents said they watched TV reruns, up from 45% in 2022.

●  DIFFERENCES AMONG POPULAR GENRES BY COUNTRY

According to the “The Data You Need to Build a Thriving FAST Channel” study, 83% of viewers have watched at least one crime show or movie in the first half of 2023 in the UK, with less than 65% of Turkish viewers watching crime content during the same period.

Saudi viewers (36%), as well as viewers in the United Arab Emirates (31%) and France (29%), are more than twice as likely to watch anime content than viewers in Norway and Sweden (each at 13%). With that data in mind, anime distributors would be best served looking to partner with FAST platforms in the Middle East or France before turning to the Nordic markets, the report notes.

Furthermore, documentaries are much more popular in the United Kingdom than other Western European countries. In the UK, 43% of viewers watched a documentary in the first half of 2023 – making British viewers twice as likely as French viewers (22%) to have watched a documentary this year.

“By having the knowledge of what viewers are watching, current and prospective FAST operators can acquire the right content for their channels that will resonate the most with their viewers,”  the report says.

The report also spotlights content viewing in Spain, highlighting that operators should not assume that acquiring content from countries that speak the same language as their viewers will automatically translate into views. In Spain, the most popular content (excluding titles from the United States or Spain) comes from the UK, with 50% of Spanish viewers having watched a British title over the first half of the year. The second most popular content comes from Japan, at 31%, while Spanish-language content from Mexico ranks #9 with 7%.

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