Virtual channel cases: FAST channels, sports channels, pop-up channels and other possibilities

As NAB Show 2024 nears (we’ll be there, booth W3220), we notice that FAST channels are living it up.

They’re getting front rows at trade shows. They’re getting bullet points at business meetings. They’re getting headlines and eyes on screens. 

Is the hype real?

Well, yes. But what you may not know is this: FAST is only part of something bigger that has more potential: virtual channels.

With virtual channels, you can keep your customers streaming in multiple ways, not just the FAST way. And in terms of monetization, think of virtual channels as accomplices — they help you make off like a bandit.

About these so-called FAST” channels

FAST means free, ad-supported TV. Viewers can enjoy linear TV or VOD content without paying for it, because ad revenue completely subsidizes the streaming service.

Many streaming brands offer this setup. Maybe you’ve subscribed to (or at least heard of) Tubi, Pluto TV, Freevee, XUMO, Plex, Vudu, or VIZIO WatchFree+. (There are more.) The free format of FAST is already quite popular with American broadcasters. In Europe it’s gaining momentum.

Many industry studies say that FAST channel revenue will reach US $12 billion by 2027. So yes, the hype is real.

But there are more options to consider. Because there are other ways of capitalizing on your content.

More channels, more possibilities

A music event channel: that true-blue 360° feeling

Music events channels: mix VOD and live to stream music

Everyone enjoys live music, right? As a content deliverer, what if you could amp up the live experience? 

Mix live and pre-recorded streams, or mix multiple live streams running at the same time. This’ll really engage your viewers.

To get a feel for the fun facets of a music event channel, imagine your favorite band. As they gear up for their show, you can watch moments from past tours, watch documentaries starring the group, and watch the lead singer ham it up in interviews backstage.

That’s the beauty of blending VOD content with live: you can build rapport with the band and build anticipation of what’s to come before they even open their show. Being there in person usually means everything. But with a music event channel powered by Unified Virtual Channel, streaming the show can trump standing there in the crowd.

Sport channels: switch, pivot, and score

Stream sport events: football games, soccer games, Olympics, F1 and other

Imagine you’re streaming a football game. The big event celebrates not only two beloved teams, but also the unique vibe of live sports.

You can create a schedule that includes both live and VOD content, and insert ads without relying on encoders or playout systems. We get it: your audience is very wary of any broadcast delays, not to mention interruptions. Good thing you can do seamless transitions with Unified. So go ahead and amend the schedule on the fly, without making any breaks in the action. 

For instance, you can play a live stream with ads; you can overrule the planned stream (via manifest manipulation) by inserting breaking news featuring a GOAT (greatest of all time) announcing retirement; and you can keep the party going after the game by showing a biopic about the GOAT.

You can make all of these changes as needed, and your viewers won’t even see any seams. They’ll just sit back and savor the spectacle.

Targeted stream: from darn it to dart it

Personalization, targeted ads, ad replacement and typerpersonalization

Don’t limit yourself to one video stream only. Increase your revenue by adding extensive personalization features to your channels.

Insert ads into your streams and use third-party tools (AI tools, too) to target them to your audience. Potato chips or salt n’ malt vinegar crisps? Pickup trucks or electric cars? Baby formula or beer? Make the right call. Appeal to the preferences of each demographic, and use geo-targeting capabilities to ratchet up the accuracy of your monetization methods.

More is more: pop-up channels, kids’, edu‑, regional, what have you

We’re all well aware of the value of the rare content you’ve got just sitting around in your archives. Don’t let those gems tarnish in dark vaults!

Try experimenting with your content. Create new channels for different purposes and audience groups. You can even launch pop-up channels to test them out. 

Fun fact: just one Unified Virtual Channel license is enough to run multiple pop-up channels throughout the year. If you wanna know more, just shoot us a message!

End of message

To sum up: FAST channels aren’t a silver bullet. Gold at the end of the rainbow. A tonic to cure all that ails you. FAST is part of something bigger that’ll take you farther, keep you nimbler.

With Unified Virtual Channel, you can do FAST, you can do new formats, you can mix and match VOD and live, you can exploit what you’ve already got. Ultimately, the product lets you play pioneer. You can test streams, tinker with new ways of extracting value, and tighten the bond between your content and your viewers. 

Contact Unified Streaming to give you reliable tech that’ll make your vision real. Or check out the solution’s landing page here. Better yet, get a free trial. Or book a personal demo here.