Free ad-supported streaming television channels are expected to generate $6.3 billion in revenue in 2023 and almost double that by 2027, according to a report from Omdia. The United States will account for 80% of the market, but other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany and Brazil will also see rapid growth. Despite the industry excitement about online television channels, the traditional television advertising market is still far more valuable.

FAST channels are free online video services that offer a curated selection of programming in a traditional channel format, supported by advertising. They are typically available on smart televisions and streaming devices, and often mimic the look and feel of traditional broadcast channels. The term FAST was first used by industry analyst Alan Wolk in late 2018.

Omdia estimates that FAST channel revenue grew almost 20 times between 2019 and 2022, from $211 million to $4 billion. The market is projected to triple again by 2027, reaching $12 billion.

The United States is the largest and most mature market for FAST channels, with services such as Pluto TV, Tubi, Xumo and The Roku Channel leading the way. Omdia forecasts that the FAST channel market in the United States will exceed $10 billion in revenue by 2027.

The report also identifies the top ten markets for FAST channels outside the United States, based on factors such as broadband penetration, online video adoption, advertising spending and content availability. These are: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, France, Spain and Sweden.

The United Kingdom, Canada and Australia are expected to have FAST markets worth over $500 million, $300 million and $200 million respectively by 2027.

Germany and Brazil are also poised for growth, with annual FAST channel revenues of over $200 million and $100 million respectively by 2027.

Maria Rua Aguete, senior director at Omdia, said: “Although three of the five-largest FAST markets are English-speaking nations, Canada, Germany and Brazil, in third, fourth and fifth place respectively will offer mainstream FAST opportunities for non-English content.”

“$12 billion in revenues for FAST channels is impressive,” she added, “but when viewed in the wider context of online video, social video remains the growth story for the next five years. FAST channels are another window to monetize content but not the only one.”

In context, $12 billion in annual revenue is also small in comparison to total television advertising revenue of over $800 billion worldwide, projected to reach over a trillion dollars a year by 2027.