Q&A : Cédric Monnier, CEO & co-founder, OKAST on how to be successful in FAST

Cédric Monnier, CEO & co-founder, OKAST, explains what content providers needs to think about when launching into the world of free advertising-supported streaming television (FAST).

What are the key things that a content provider needs to consider before launching a FAST channel?

FAST is somehow the best combination of old TV and Internet: free access to content, no need to choose, laid-back experience, powered by proven advertising technologies (programmatic) based on user-centric data. Most content providers are embracing this new form of distribution, seeing it as the perfect opportunity to monetise their extensive inventories, giving a new life to their niche content.

Two essential things must be kept in mind when looking for success:

  • It’s TV (!)meaning you must build a linear schedule as good as you used to do in broadcast: the weekend is not the same as weekdays, prime time is not morning, etc. The audience watching a FAST channel on a connected TV will not see the difference from regular TV channels, so they do expect the best quality content and an attractive schedule (so forget automatic random scheduling of content!).
  • It’s advertised: it is key to have an advertising strategy that supports the scheduling, not only with 6-10 minutes ad breaks but also auto promotion jingles and alternative content when the ad replacement doesn’t work as well as expected.

Leaders and key players like Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, Rakuten have engaged in a complete review of their channels lineup, looking for more premium ones. There will be fewer opportunities and more competition to be part of their offering: new channels will have to prove they are ‘ads bankable’.

Therefore, it would be wise to establish a holistic strategy where FAST channels are not only going to walled garden CTV platforms but also aggregators’ apps, OTT platforms and websites.

What do channel providers need to think about in securing access to platforms?

In this value chain there are two stakeholders: the software provider building the channel, and the distributor (mainly CTVs) putting it on screen and managing advertising.

Some key issues to be careful of:

  • Hidden costs that can occur from the software vendor: platform fees, CDN fees, resulting from increasing numbers of delivery platforms.
  • Ad revenue deals with CTV: when they manage your full inventory, they can take the lion’s share. Better to secure an inventory split to add more ad servers.
  • Data reporting: knowing the audience and boosting ad performances rely on the quality of provided data. Getting access to transparent in-depth data is a gamechanger: walled garden software solutions and CTV analytics can be a blind spot.
  • Reliability: a black screen has always been everybody’s worst nightmare in broadcast, and it’s the same for FAST! Validate cloud performances and security measures set in place by the software vendor.

What can OKAST Channels offer to FAST channel providers that sets the product apart in the market?

We’ve been doing OTT and broadcast for years, so it was quite a natural move to build OKAST Channels, where we included a proven playout with advanced schedule engine, and an in-depth data engine complemented by a complete advertising solution (SSAI plus ad server management with more than 25 SSP pre-integrated).

We therefore streamline our OTT expertise (more than 400 platforms launched in four years), our native cloud infrastructure, and a constant broadcast grade attention to security and reliability in a simple solution that you can integrate in your existing infrastructure.

What is the FAST4EU consortium and how can it help stimulate the FAST market in Europe?

FAST4EU was created in 2022 and co-funded under the “Europe Media Creative” umbrella for three years. Its goal is to accelerate the development of the FAST market in Europe and provide a technological and content approach tailored to the European market with the ability to scale internationally.

The founding members are OKAST are Secom, Kinostar and VideoElephant, who already rely on the OKAST Channels solution for their first FAST channels and benefit from the specific features of an EU-wide distribution strategy (multilingual content availability, content diversity, both in genres and in-country of origin, local and pan-regional regulations).

The FAST4EU consortium is also open to new members to launch more FAST channels.

What steps would you advise existing OTT players looking to enter the FAST world to take and how can you help them with this?

FAST is very exciting but still a young market, sometimes a bit like the Wild West!

Our classic advice to any lead or customer:

  • Have clear revenue targets: don’t try to be everywhere before you can optimise the business model and get a positive ROI. Start first with the big leading platforms!
  • Don’t underestimate the lead generation effect from your FAST channel to your own OTT platform or application: indirect subscriptions can often complement ad revenue and AVOD revenues.
  • Strategise ads: the more you understand the audience, the more you can adjust your schedule and content selection. It will help to increase the CPM value and get more paid ads.

At OKAST, we not only deliver a software to use, but also accompany our customers at every step from building schedules to launching, then analysing data and iterating until they get a successful channel.

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