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What is FAST?

We’ve compiled a glossary of streaming TV terms to help you keep up with the fast-changing world of streaming TV.

The late writer/director John Hughes, writing as Ferris Bueller, said, “Life moves pretty fast.“ So does streaming TV technology. We had broadcast TV, then cable TV, then satellite TV. Now we have streaming TV and its evolved offshoots, like FAST services. This article will explain FAST and several other streaming TV terms.

Among trees sits a rusty sign saying, FREE TV.

(Very) generally speaking, FAST means free streaming TV. (Photo: Robin Jonathan Deutsch on Unsplash)

What is FAST?

FAST stands for free ad-supported streaming TV. You might also hear it called AVOD (advertising video on demand)—but there’s a difference.

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What is the difference between FAST and AVOD streaming?

FAST refers to services like Sling Freestream, Pluto TV, and Tubi that offer free live TV channels (often called FAST channels) with unskippable ads. Many smart TV brands like Samsung TV Plus and LG Channel Plus have proprietary FAST services.

FAST channels are typically looping channels dedicated to a single theme (action, horror, reality), network, or TV show—but they can also be live local channels (aka local broadcast affiliates).

AVOD, or advertising video on demand, is similar but refers to streaming TV services with only on-demand content. Examples of AVOD services include Amazon Freevee, Pluto TV, and Tubi.

Many FAST services also have on-demand libraries, so they’re both FAST and AVOD services.

Pro tip: If you love free TV, check out Freebie the Love Bundle, a custom streaming service bundle we cooked up in 9 Streaming Bundles to Replace Cable.

FAST glossary

FAST and AVOD aren’t the only streaming TV terms you’ll encounter in the wild. We’ve compiled a glossary to help you with those.

  • AVOD (advertising video-on-demand): Free on-demand streaming services with unskippable ads. Think Amazon Freevee, Tubi, and Pluto TV. If an AVOD service has live TV channels, it’s also a FAST service.
  • ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee): A set of standards for digital TV broadcasts over land-based, cable, or satellite TV networks. The current version, ATSC 3.0, supports 4K resolution, HDR, 120 frames per second, and more.
  • FAST (free ad-supported streaming television): Free live TV streaming service with unskippable commercials. Think Sling Freestream, Tubi, and Pluto TV. If a FAST service has on-demand content, it’s also an AVOD service.

Pro tip: According to, as of mid-2022, the three most popular FAST services are The Roku Channel (21.5%), Tubi (19.7%), and Pluto TV (17.1%). Note: At the time of this survey, the now-defunct Peacock Free was in 3rd place (19.4%).

  • FAST channel: A looping, themed channel devoted to a single show, genre, or theme. Some FAST services have local channels.
  • Live TV streaming service: A subscription-based TV service offering mainly live TV channels but may also have an on-demand library. These services have regular (non-FAST) live TV channels and may allow ad-skipping on some programming.
  • Local channels: Your local broadcast affiliates (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and others).
  • MVPD (Multichannel Video Programming Distributor): A traditional cable or satellite TV provider like DISH Network, DIRECTV, Spectrum, or Xfinity. (See also: vMVPD)
  • On-demand streaming TV service: A subscription-based streaming service (aka SVOD) will only on-demand movies and shows. These services include Amazon Prime Video, Max™, Netflix, and Paramount+.
  • OTA (over-the-air) TV: TV broadcast from local stations in your area. These channels are free if you have an OTA antenna.

Pro tip: If you have a 4K TV and are looking for an OTA antenna, you need one with ATSC 3.0 compatibility.

  • Over-the-top (OTT): OTT services stream movies and shows to an app over a public, unmanaged internet connection. These include AVOD, FAST, SVOD, and TVOD services.
  • Streaming device: Any device that connects to the internet and supports streaming TV apps.
  • SVOD (subscription video-on-demand): This term describes the live TV and on-demand streaming services you pay monthly to access their live TV channels and on-demand libraries. Think Amazon Prime Video, Max, Netflix, and Paramount+.
  • TVOD (transactional video-on-demand): This is when you rent or buy a digital movie or show via Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Google Play Movies, Redbox, VUDU, and YouTube.
  • vMVPD (virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor): Any streaming TV service, whether live or on-demand.

FAST and AVOD streaming services

Here are some of the most popular free streaming services, including FAST, AVOD, and hybrid AVOD/FAST streaming services. Click the links to read full reviews.

Swipe Left to See All →
Amazon Freevee
Android TV
Google TV
Haystack News
LG Channel Plus
Midnight Pulp
Pluto TV
The Roku Channel
Samsung TV Plus
Shout! Factory TV
Sling Freestream
TCL Channel
Vizio WatchFree+
Xumo Play

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