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VIP+ Exchange: FAST Opportunities

Variety Intelligence Platform senior media analyst Gavin Bridge met in November with Srini Ka, co-founder of global media tech firm Amagi, to discuss the increasingly prominent free ad-supported TV (FAST) landscape amid today’s streaming landscape.

Amagi is at the forefront of cloud-based SaaS technology utilized for broadcast and connected TV, where it supports more than 500 content brands and manages thousands of channel deliveries.

“It’s been a fantastic rocket ship growth over the last year or so,” said Ka, acknowledging how quickly FAST platforms have taken off in response to higher consumer demand for free streaming options such as Pluto TV, which is owned by ViacomCBS.

“Certainly [the] pandemic ironically helped a lot in terms of a lot more streaming happening, with more time being spent at home watching TV,” Ka continued.

With services like IMDb TV at Amazon, Tubi at Fox Corp., the new Roku Channel and Comcast’s Xfinity on-screen electronic program guide (EPG), which integrates channels from Xumo and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streamer, FAST development has seen just as much attention as the influx of new high-profile SVOD services like Peacock, HBO Max and Paramount+ throughout the COVID-19 timeline.

“Another huge trend that actually happens, just strictly last year, was that a lot more premium content got into FAST,” Ka explained. “When the FAST ecosystem started, a lot of it was about usage of related content,” he continued, pointing out that with the amount of content one can watch on Netflix, it’s a priority for FAST platforms to make sure its own content doesn’t pale in comparison to the gamut of high-quality options available through the top streaming subscriptions.

For more, watch the whole conversation above.