Rising popularity of FAST channels

FAST channels, short for Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV channels, have become a significant player in the streaming landscape, revolutionizing how audiences consume content. As subscription fatigue sets in and consumers become more discerning about where they allocate their money, free streaming platforms offer a compelling alternative. 

More and more people are opting for lower-cost FAST channels over the higher-priced ad-free option (StreamTV Insider). A prime example of this is Peacock’s free ad-supported tier versus its paid ad-free option: according to Peacock’s own figures, the ad-supported $5.99 plan accounts for around 70% of their total subscriber base as of early 2023 (EMarketer).

On platforms like Tubi or Pluto TV, viewers can watch films of any genre, from "John Wick" to "The Conjuring" to "A Rainy Day in New York." Moreover, FAST channels stream reality shows such as "Dr. Phil" and a variety of sports shows and matches.

But the real question is: do FAST channels have a future, or is it just a current trend? 

Originally, Free Ad-Supported Streaming platforms consisted of reruns. But the more popular FAST channels became, the more opportunities were opened in this streaming sector. Now, originals on FAST channels come in all shapes and sizes — scripted shows, unscripted shows, news, and sports — and some channels have won daytime Emmys (Variety).

The allure of getting a wide range of content for the small price of watching a few ads paid off, and now it is estimated that one in three Americans regularly watch a FAST provider and that FAST will eclipse subscription-based streaming service’s dominance by 2030 (Matchpoint).

The expansive industry, valued in the billions, encompasses a diverse array of providers, content creators, and players in the connected-TV realm. Here are the top 5 FAST channels in the US according to number of users:

  1. The Roku Channel: 82 million active users (2024).
  2. Paramount’s Pluto TV: 80 million active users (2023).
  3. Fox’s Tubi:  74 million active users (2023).
  4. Amazon Freevee: 65 million active users (2022).
  5. Crackle: 40 million active users (2022).


Business is going good for FAST channels and subscription-based streaming services are facing serious competition. As early as 2027, FAST channels can expect to reach nearly $12 billion in revenue (decenderads). Millions of active viewers open opportunities for growth in original content and innovation for FAST channels. Platforms like The Roku Channel, Paramount’s Pluto TV, and Amazon Freeve are a perfect blend of streaming channels and TV networks. Streaming scene changes rapidly and exciting new opportunities arise.