FAST rivals gaming and cable in primetime viewing, study finds

By NewscastStudio

Subscribe to NewscastStudio for the latest news, project case studies and product announcements in broadcast technology, creative design and engineering delivered to your inbox.

Free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) is increasingly becoming a major player in the entertainment industry, according to a new report by Xumo and FASTMaster Consulting.

The “2024 FAST Market Update” reveals significant engagement levels among viewers, positioning FAST as a formidable alternative to traditional entertainment forms such as gaming, social media and cable TV during primetime hours.

The report indicates that the average FAST viewer spends one hour and 40 minutes watching FAST channels in the evening. This is comparable to the one hour and 42 minutes gamers spend playing video or mobile games and the one hour and 53 minutes they spend on social media. Cable TV viewers, on the other hand, spend one hour and 58 minutes watching network programming during the same period.

“The findings of this report underscore the increasingly important role FAST plays in today’s entertainment landscape,” said Stefan Van Engen of Xumo. “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.”

Despite being a relative newcomer, FAST channels are becoming a primary source of entertainment for many consumers.

The study found that one-third of American adults watch FAST channels during peak hours. Additionally, nearly 70% of FAST users report that they can always find something to watch on these free streaming channels.

The report dispels common myths about FAST viewers, often perceived as a less desirable audience for advertisers or as people with no alternatives. Gavin Bridge of FASTMaster Consulting emphasized that the research highlights the diversity and engagement of the FAST audience, which is crucial for advertisers aiming to maximize their reach.

The demographic breakdown of FAST viewers shows that they are younger and more diverse than the general U.S. adult population.

Advertisement

While 46% of U.S. adults are between 18 and 44, 58% of FAST viewers fall within this age range. Additionally, Black viewers constitute 20% of the FAST audience, compared to 14% of the national population, and 23% of FAST viewers have Latino origins, compared to 19% nationally.

FAST channels also attract viewers from various backgrounds, including pay TV customers, cord-cutters, and cord-nevers. Nearly half of pay TV subscribers (47%) and cord-cutters (46%) are regular FAST viewers, while 35% of cord-nevers tune in to FAST channels.

The content preferences of FAST viewers are also notable. News, movies, and crime TV dominate the viewing hours on Xumo Play, accounting for 58% of total viewing despite representing only 11% of available channels.

The data for this report was collected from 4,000 U.S. adults of different ages, genders, and ethnicities between the third quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024.

Xumo, a joint venture between Comcast and Charter, offers a next-generation streaming platform featuring Xumo devices, Xumo Play, and Xumo Enterprise. Xumo Play is a free ad-supported streaming service available on Xumo devices and as an app on other major streaming platforms.

Subscribe to NewscastStudio for the latest news, project case studies and product announcements in broadcast technology, creative design and engineering delivered to your inbox.