Sports Viewing is Supercharged with the Global Growth of FAST and AVOD

By: Jerry Inman|June 4, 2024

Originally Posted on OTTVerse

In the evolving landscape of streaming, the consumption of sports content has undergone significant transformation. Among the most noteworthy trends are the rise of FAST and AVOD. These models are not only reshaping how audiences access sports but are also driving substantial growth in viewership and revenue.

The Emergence Of FAST And AVOD

FAST and AVOD have emerged as meaningful additions to traditional pay-TV and subscription-based streaming services. FAST channels offer live linear programming, much like traditional TV, but are delivered over the internet and funded through advertising. AVOD platforms, on the other hand, provide on-demand content that is free for users but supported by ads. Both models have gained traction due to their affordability and accessibility, particularly in markets where subscription fatigue is becoming prevalent.

Key Drivers Of Growth

Several factors are driving the growth of FAST and AVOD in the sports viewing sector:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Both FAST and AVOD eliminate the need for monthly subscription fees, making them attractive options for budget-conscious consumers.
  • Ad Revenue Potential: Advertisers are increasingly recognizing the value of sports content in reaching engaged and diverse audiences. This has led to significant investments in FAST and AVOD platforms.
  • Technological Advancements: Improvements in streaming technology have enhanced the quality of FAST and AVOD services, providing viewers with high-definition streams and reliable access to live sports events.
  • Content Variety and Accessibility: These platforms offer a wide range of sports content, from major league events to niche sports, catering to a diverse audience base.

Global Growth Statistics

The global growth of FAST and AVOD for sports viewing can be illustrated through several key statistics:

1. Market Expansion: According to a report by Digital TV Research, the global AVOD market is projected to reach $66 billion by 2026, up from $33 billion in 2020. This growth is fueled by increased adoption across North America, Europe, and emerging markets in Asia and Latin America.

2. Viewer Numbers: The number of FAST viewers in the United States alone is expected to exceed 216 million by 2024, up from 160 million in 2020. This surge reflects a broader trend towards ad-supported streaming services as a preferred mode of content consumption.

3. Ad Revenue: In the sports sector specifically, ad revenue from AVOD platforms is forecasted to grow by 18% annually, reaching $5.3 billion by 2025. This growth is indicative of the high engagement levels associated with live sports viewing and the premium ad rates that advertisers are willing to pay.

4. Platform Proliferation: Major players like Pluto TV, Tubi, and Peacock have significantly expanded their sports offerings, contributing to the overall growth of the market. For instance, Pluto TV has seen a 34% increase in sports channel viewership year-over-year.

Regional Insights

The growth trajectory of FAST and AVOD varies across different regions, reflecting local market dynamics and consumer preferences.

  • North America: The United States remains a leading market for both FAST and AVOD services. Platforms such as Pluto TV, Tubi, and Roku Channel have established robust sports sections, offering content ranging from live games to sports documentaries. The convenience of free access combined with a diverse sports catalog has driven substantial user adoption.
  • Europe: In Europe, AVOD platforms are gaining ground, particularly in the UK, Germany, and France. Services like Rakuten TV and Samsung TV Plus are expanding their sports content, leveraging partnerships with leagues and sports networks. The ad-supported model resonates well with European consumers, who are accustomed to free-to-air sports broadcasts.
  • Asia-Pacific: The Asia-Pacific region is witnessing rapid growth in AVOD consumption, driven by markets like India and Southeast Asia. Platforms such as Hotstar (now Disney+ Hotstar) and Viu are capitalizing on the cricket craze and other regional sports, attracting millions of viewers. The affordability and mobile-friendly nature of these services are key growth drivers.
  • Latin America: In Latin America, the adoption of FAST and AVOD is accelerating, with platforms like Pluto TV and Tubi making significant inroads. The region’s passion for football (soccer) and other sports is translating into high engagement rates on these platforms.

Challenges And Opportunities

While the growth prospects for FAST and AVOD in sports viewing are promising, several challenges need to be addressed:

  • Content Licensing: Securing rights to premium sports content can be costly and competitive. Platforms must navigate complex licensing agreements to offer attractive sports programming.
  • User Experience: Ensuring a seamless viewing experience, especially during live events, is crucial. Buffering issues or poor streaming quality can deter viewers.
  • Ad Load Management: Balancing the ad load to avoid viewer fatigue while maximizing ad revenue is a delicate task. Platforms must optimize ad placements to maintain viewer engagement.

Despite these challenges, the opportunities for growth are substantial. The continued shift towards digital consumption, combined with the increasing willingness of advertisers to invest in ad-supported models, positions FAST and AVOD as key players in the future of sports broadcasting.

The Future Of Sports Viewing

Looking ahead, the growth of FAST and AVOD in sports viewing is expected to continue unabated. Several trends are likely to shape this future:

  • Hybrid Models: Some platforms may adopt hybrid models, offering a mix of free ad-supported content and premium subscription options. This approach can cater to different segments of the audience while maximizing revenue potential.
  • Enhanced Personalization: Leveraging data analytics and AI, FAST and AVOD platforms can offer personalized content recommendations, enhancing user engagement and satisfaction.
  • Expansion of Sports Content: Beyond mainstream sports, there will be a greater focus on niche sports and local leagues, catering to diverse interests and expanding the viewer base.

In conclusion, the global growth of FAST and AVOD for sports viewing is a testament to the evolving preferences of consumers and the adaptability of digital media platforms. As these models continue to mature, they are set to redefine the sports viewing experience, making it more accessible, affordable, and engaging for audiences worldwide. The statistics and trends highlighted in this article underscore the significant impact of FAST and AVOD on the sports media landscape, paving the way for a dynamic and inclusive future.