FAST and NextGen TV: Streaming Trends Built for the Future

history of televisions

By Will Offeman, Chief Product Officer, WideOrbit

Marketers and media companies have faced changes like interrupting production schedules, rapidly shifting audience behaviors and unpredictable advertising budgets during the COVID-19 pandemic. But throughout this period of uncertainty, the streaming market experienced a massive uptick and continues to evolve with their viewers.

Popular services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and many others have saturated the market for subscription services, boosting growth opportunities for alternatives like Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST). Additionally, the launch of NextGen TV presents an even greater opportunity for FAST with its addressable capabilities.

Let’s take a deeper look at FAST platforms, NextGen TV and their impacts on marketing and media industries:

Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST)

The amount of streaming dramatically increased while everyone was at home during the pandemic. Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV saw audiences grow by 37% in 2020. But declining household budgets have caused consumers to limit their paid streaming subscriptions.


Local TV stations with declining revenues have seen growth in free, ad-supported TV (FAST) services, such as Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus and Tubi. These free, ad-supported digital streaming platforms and services allow local TV broadcasters to change up their traditional business model and expand offerings beyond traditional live, linear broadcast. There is much more revenue potential for free streaming compared to subscription options and video-on-demand. Plus, the advanced targeting capabilities of streaming services give broadcasters the ability to offer advertisers precise audience targeting with the addressability of digital.

FAST platforms provide consumers with an alternate content delivery channel that offers the addressable advertising capability many broadcasters and advertisers have been yearning for decades. As a result, ad tech companies have made strategic partnerships with cloud-based tech companies to let broadcasters put ads into live streams using existing workflows and infrastructure. Broadcast and streaming leaders WideOrbit and Amagi partnered in September of 2020 for this very reason.

NextGen TV

ATSC 3.0/NextGen TV was the buzz of CES at the beginning of 2020. Although COVID soon took over, progress continued to be made on NextGen TV. By the end of 2020, reported that NextGen TV was on the air in 21 markets. NextGen TV provides viewers with enhanced video and audio and is designed to be easily upgradeable for future advancement, making it easy for TV manufacturers to update any NextGen TV set connected to the internet when new features become available.

Many advertisers are eager for increased adoption of NextGen TV, which can be described as IP-based over-the-air broadcast TV. NextGen TV is free, other than the cost of compatible hardware, and is now available in more than 30 markets across the country, a number that continues to grow. As an IP-based platform, NextGen TV allows for addressable advertising similar to Google and Facebook, meaning advertisers can be more precise with targeting while also allowing pay-for-performance billing based on the number of impressions delivered.

FAST and NextGen TV are both trends changing the ad buying process for streaming platforms that are shifting to meet marketers’ needs. In many ways, the pandemic has shown that it’s hard to predict what will happen tomorrow, and consumers are constantly changing. This makes it even more necessary for ad tech and software companies like WideOrbit to evolve and build out the technical infrastructure required to keep these transformations moving forward.