FAST Studios launched on Tuesday with a wager that free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels, including portions of NBCUniversal’s Peacock and ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV, will continue to grow.
The L.A.-based company run by serial media entrepreneur Stuart McLean aims to invest in, operate and provide programming, distribution and sales support to FAST channels.
“We are seeing gaps and obstacles for current and future channel owners who need to act like broadcasters to compete,” said McLean in a statement. “FAST Studios addresses these needs by acting as a strategic investor, operator and distributor of channels, lowering the barrier to entry while delivering broadcast quality channels and infrastructure.”
Content on FAST operators like Comcast’s Xumo and The Roku Channel – which may soon revive former Quibi content — tends to be either older shows and movies that haven’t been exclusively licensed by other platforms, digital-first video clips like the foodie fare produced by L.A.-based Tastemade and library content from big media networks who operate such channels. Some niche streaming programmers, like Revry TV, which focuses on LGBTQ content, also operate as FAST channels.
In part because FAST channels are free, they offer advertisers an opportunity to reach a fairly large viewership, particularly the growing number of folks who do not pay for cable.
When ViacomCBS acquired PlutoTV in 2019, it had 12 million viewers. After the legacy media company leveraged its library to add several more channels to the service, its audience nearly doubled in less than a year and reportedly netted $1 billion in domestic ad revenue.
Among FAST Studios’ board members is Michael Montgomery, who formerly served as a board member of Dreamworks Animation.