Local TV goes FAST, three good reasons why they should – the lift may not be as heavy as it looks.

Free Ad-Supported Television, or simply FAST, channels are garnering a lot of attention these days. There seems to be at least three good reasons local TV goes FAST. Broadcasters should seriously consider launching their own.


The lift might not be as heavy as it looks at first. From a technology and workflow perspective, broadcasters know the infrastructure necessary. They may already have excess capacity to support a FAST channels launch. Additionally, they are well-versed in the sales, traffic and master control processes to support a new channel effort.

Programming might prove to be somewhat of a challenge. However, most broadcasters programming a hyper-local TV channel likely have an abundance of locally produced content in the can. There is no shortage of local talent, educators, experts and others with something to offer. Look no further than YouTube for examples of these sorts of people. Think local versions of James Stephen Donaldson, otherwise known as “Mr. Beast,” or Elizabeth Zharoff and her channel “The Charismatic Voice.”

Given the massive geographic footprint of many station groups, how unreasonable is it to think local talent in markets around the country could coalesce in a program schedule for one or more FAST channels?


An interest in and booking of ads delivered via video streaming/OTT channels is climbing on a local basis. During a Borrell Associates webinar in July laying out the findings of recent research on local ad buying, Borrell CEO Gordon Borrell and executive vice president Corey Elliot reveals 21% of nearly 2,000 local ad buyer respondents annually purchase streaming video/OTT, spending an average of $39,000. 

That’s about 40% of what they spend each year on broadcast TV. Based on the growing popularity of streaming video/OTT among these buyers over the past few years, Borrell said he sees a day when there will be high adoption and high spending on this delivery path.

(One caveat: Borrell used the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) definition of “streaming video/OTT” in the research, a broader term that includes FAST, but also many other subsets, like social media platforms, such as YouTube, streaming sVOD and aVOD channels and others.)

The pair also referenced Borrell research into local ad agencies. This found that amongst the 380 agency respondents, streaming video/OTT is No. 1 when it came to where agencies are seeing the most interest. Moreover, this is from clients across the wide array of media available.


There may be a snug fit for FAST channels into the game plans of some broadcasters for ATSC 3.0. Both FAST and NextGen TV can be targeted to meet the interests of smaller audiences than a broadcast audience. Even if the latter is delivered over the air by leveraging strategies and technologies like single frequency networks (SFNs) and Layered Division Multiplexing (LDM).

Both can also be offered to local advertisers on rate cards. To provide pricing far lower than the price of broadcast TV simply because of this targeting. Think of a restaurant serving a clientele from a given neighborhood that could never afford the market reach of a TV broadcaster but would be willing to pay lower rates to reach viewers living nearby. 

There may be other good reasons for local broadcasters to consider FAST channel launches. However, these three are a good place to start for stations looking at this emerging opportunity.