Is the Indian appetite for free content enough to propel FAST over SVOD?

By Streaming Sales lead, India and SEA - July 11, 2023
FAST growth in India

With initiatives like 'Digital India' and 'Make in India,' the prominence of digital infrastructure and internet penetration has steadily increased. Further, the availability of fast, reliable, and cheap internet services and the implementation of 5G has led to an explosion of streaming services and digital content across the country. As of 2022, India's average daily media consumption is six hours, a figure that has grown steadily over recent years, with TV viewing accounting for the highest share. 

In 2022, about 25 million households in India owned a connected TV. This number is set to double by 2025. From big players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to homegrown platforms like Hotstar, SonyLIV, Zee5, and JioTV, each platform offers local and international content – leaving viewers often overwhelmed with choices. 

Subscription fatigue and lengthy searches present significant challenges for video-on-demand viewers. For these reasons, Free Ad-supported Streaming TV (FAST) is quickly gaining popularity. Offering linear, lean-back, and ad-supported experiences, FAST provides the best of traditional broadcast in the streaming landscape.

While FAST is creating a buzz in the United States, with about 57% of CTV viewers already converted, India is catching up on overall usage. In this blog, we'll discuss how FAST is faring India and where its future lies.

How FAST is India today?

FAST entered India relatively later than the USA. When streaming became prominent during the pandemic, viewers began discovering FAST for diverse emerging content. With CTV penetration increasing, FAST adoption is currently at 8% in Indian households, undergoing a slow yet consistent growth. 

Some of the players who have been making a stride in the Indian FAST landscape are:

  1. Samsung India: Samsung Electronics India has over 100 channels featured on its FAST service. With this, Samsung Smart TV users can access global and local content across sports, news, entertainment, and lifestyle for free. They recently added seven new channels: Zee News, Zee Business, ABP News, ABP Ananda, ABP Sanjha, Zee 24 Ghanta, and Times Now Navbharat. Samsung TV Plus' monthly active users in India have increased 71% YOY. There is also a whopping 240% increase in the average session time. 

  2. DistroTV Desi: This San Francisco-based independent FAST service caters to 60 markets. It is available for the CTV audience on ROKU, FireTV, Apple TV, Samsung, and Google TV. It entered the Indian market in August 2021 with 16 FAST channels. Today DistroTV Desi Bundle offers over 36 channels with new additions, including ABP, Bollywood Prime, FoodFood, Epic, and more.

4 Factors that are Driving FAST Growth in India

  1. Demand for free content: A 2023 global report by Samsung Ads India in partnership with Verve states that 4 out of 5 Indians (81%) are willing to watch ads in exchange for free content. Data from Amagi ANALYTICS reinstates this finding by showing a consistent rise in Hours Of Viewing (HOV) by 63.3% and ad impressions by 77% on FAST channels in India.

  2. Cord cutting: GroupM-Kantar report states that CTV households account for 10% of the total TV households in India, a number that is predicted to double by 2024. Around 0.5 million of these have already fully transitioned from Direct To Home (DTH) to CTV. These cord-cutters are also set to increase from 0.5 million to 13 million by 2026. The higher the CTV adoption, the higher the chances of FAST penetration into each household.

  3. High-quality content availability: With multiple OTT players in the market, there is no dearth of high-quality content. However, SVODs that promise high-quality content are also venturing into ad-supported, more economical models to reach a broader audience. This trend will become more prominent as the lines between AVOD and FAST continue to blur. 

  4. Advanced ad targeting and personalization: The Samsung Ads India report also states that 80% of CTV audiences are willing to watch relevant ads, as they believe that FAST and AVOD ads are shorter, more engaging, and less disruptive than linear TV ads. Products like Amagi THUNDERSTORM help deliver these ads, improving monetization opportunities and garnering viewers' interest.

The seventh edition of Amagi Global FAST Report shares in-depth insights into Hours Of Viewing (HOV), number of channel deliveries, ad impressions, favorite genres, TV-watching behavior, and more in the APAC region, especially India, Australia, and New Zealand. 

A FAST future ahead

The revenue of the Indian FAST market is projected to reach US$63.69 million in 2023 and US$104.10 million by 2027. The number of users is expected to amount to 148.6 million by 2027. 

With SVOD content available only at a premium fee, reaching mass audiences, especially those in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, will be an uphill climb. With smart TV penetration at 93% and high-speed internet reaching deeper geographies, we expect to see phenomenal FAST growth in the coming years – given that content quality isn't compromised.

To learn how to launch your FAST channel and effectively monetize it, get in touch with us