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FAST Channels and Their Impact on Sports Broadcasting

This article explores the impact of FAST channels on the sports broadcasting industry. Are you ready to level up your game?

The FAST (Free-ad-supported streaming TV) landscape is evolving rapidly, and the growing number of streams dedicated to broadcast sports is one of its most significant developments. FAST channels are changing how fans watch their favorite sporting events due to their convenience and low or even zero cost. In this article, we explore how FAST channels impact the way major and minor sporting leagues are watched worldwide.

The growth of FAST channels in sports broadcasting

During the last two decades, many streaming services did not prioritize sporting events. The need for high-quality, low-latency feeds for broadcasting sports convinced many streamers to focus on other kinds of content. This has recently changed, as evidenced by the NFL’s multi-year deals with Amazon and YouTube. A recent report by Ampere Analysis predicts that streaming companies will spend $8.5 billion on sports rights over 2023, a 63% increase compared to the previous year.

This investment growth is leading to a surge of FAST channels dedicated to streaming sports, with many networks and services buying the online distribution rights of major leagues and acquiring established channels for smaller disciplines. For example, FuboTV recently added Wired2Fish TV and CampusLore Sports to its catalog to attract loyal fanbases that follow fishing and college sports.

Indeed, FAST channels' growth can also be related to the increasing demand for more affordable ways to access sports content. Traditional cable subscriptions can be expensive and limited, while FAST channels offer various sports programming while generating their revenue through ad sales. This streaming model appeals to younger audiences, who prefer the convenience of online broadcasts over traditional cable.

Trends in sports broadcasting

As FAST channels continue to grow in popularity, traditional networks have had to adapt their approach to broadcasting. A growing number of broadcasting companies are investing in video platform solutions. This enables their in-house teams to create tailored FAST channels to reach new audiences and expand their digital market share. Other broadcasters prefer to acquire existing FAST-focused ventures to achieve the same goal. In 2020, Comcast acquired XumoTM for over $100 million, while Fox purchased Tubi for $440 million.

In addition, certain sports leagues had already entered the cable industry with channels that catered to their fans. Thus, it is unsurprising that these niche broadcasters, including Wrestling, Pac-12 Insider, and ACC Digital Network, are building their own FAST channels.

FAST Channels diversification

Diversification will be key for monetization

With so many disciplines available, streaming companies have the opportunity to create specialty channels. Online broadcasters are increasingly launching channels that focus on a single sport. CBS recently released a soccer-focused channel called Golazo on PlutoTV, targeting fans who would otherwise miss premium soccer matches.

The emergence of niche FAST channels has also led to a push to promote women’s sports. DAZN, a leading global sports streaming platform, has launched a dedicated FAST channel for women’s sports in Germany, featuring content from the Frauen Bundesliga and the Women’s UEFA Champions League. This strategic move widens their target audience and contributes to pushing for gender equality in sports.

With more fans turning to watch sports online, it is key for streaming platforms to make the most out of their existing sports content. Many technology stacks, such as Axinom Mosaic, can increase the capabilities of existing backends, so they automatically schedule content in curated streams and set up the necessary cue points to automate the insertion of ads. With a wide range of tools and features, Axinom Mosaic can support the diverse needs of sports broadcasters, helping them enhance the viewer experience, reach new audiences, and stay competitive in the rapidly evolving field of sports broadcasting.

In conclusion, the rise of FAST channels has significantly transformed how people watch sports by offering fans a more affordable way to stay connected to their favorite team. Traditional broadcasters have had to adapt their strategies to remain relevant while streaming platforms partner with established niche channels or find ways to monetize their sports content library.

As the market evolves, streaming platforms must stay ahead of the curve and embrace the potential of FAST channels for all niche audiences. By improving their backend with OTT technology stacks such as Axinom Mosaic, they can capitalize on their current sporting content, build curated channels, and find new audiences.

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