Chris M. Williams Talks’s FAST Perspective


Chris M. Williams, the founder and CEO of, told FAST Festival delegates about how the company’s two FAST channels help drive awareness of all of its YouTube-originated kids’ and family brands.

Williams took part in a keynote conversation with World Screen’s Kristin Brzoznowski that you can view here as part of a focused kids’ track at the three-day virtual summit.

“When I started the company, if you said, Hey, you’re going to have two linear channels, I would have said you’re crazy,” Williams quipped. “VOD was taking over at that point. It took me by surprise how quickly these new FAST services came on. It was always important to me to get real estate early. When we started seeing services like Samsung TV Plus and Pluto TV growing, we said, We should be there. We also like that these are walled gardens. When we’re extending these massively popular creators’ IP into other areas, we don’t focus on the open platforms like other companies do, like Facebook or Snapchat. We really focus on these walled gardens because we know there will be limited options and choices, and you want to be curated into those services. FAST was providing a new way of doing that. We want to bring kids and families the creator content they crave in ways that parents and the FAST channel platforms can embrace.”

The company has rolled out two FAST channels,, available on ten platforms, and Ryan and Friends, distributed on nine. “We’ve generated over 100 million hours of watch time since we launched, and we are doubling year over year,” Williams said. benefited from early mover status and the built-in recognition of star Ryan Kaji as it rolled out Ryan and Friends, which features content from numerous creators. “We thought about individual show channels or creator channels, but we found a sweet spot with Ryan and Friends, where he can cast a halo over these other creators and their content. They’re also huge in their own right, but he is the biggest pop culture icon. We’ve seen such great success with that. It’s a flywheel. Once these things gain momentum and success, other platforms want them.”

Monetization continues to evolve, Williams said. “When we think about kids’ content broadly, there’s been such an evolution in the business model from cable, which was such a great cash cow for funding great enriching kids’ content. We believe that if we can become more successful in monetizing the kids’ content through FAST channels and other means, advertising being a big component there, that is a big win for us, our creator partners and our platform partners.”

Williams explained that the channels are programmed “to support and amplify our other lines of business,” including consumer products partnerships and driving subscribers to its SVOD service, Ryan and Friends Plus.

The conversation then moved to programming and curating its content slate, derived from some 45 creator partners. “We are curating, enriching and packaging that content to be distributed more broadly onto premium platforms. We make it super safe and give a lot of confidence to both business partners like FAST platforms and to parents directly that this is now a safe environment to give kids what they crave. We take that YouTube content and package it as 22-minute episodes. We’re doing ‘best of’s. We’re doing promotional episodes for new series. We’re doing event-driven stunts—we’ll do things around Halloween, Black History Month—and try to eventize programming, not unlike traditional television has always done in the past. Data informs what’s working and what’s not working and gives us roadmaps to curate and program our channels.”

As develops original content for the Ryan and Friends Plus SVOD service, the FAST channels will serve as an additional promotional window.

Brzoznowski then spoke to Williams about revenue models. “There are typically two ways you engage with a FAST platform. One is that you take half the ad inventory and monetize that yourself through direct sales and programming any ad waterfalls associated with that inventory. Or you do some sort of rev share where the platform sells the ads and then shares the revenue with you.” prefers the former, Williams said. “We’re one of only a handful of companies that Google has granted ad-sales rights to for selling YouTube Kids’ ad inventory. YouTube Kids is the largest platform for kids’ content distribution in the world. We can package that along with our FAST channel, our AVOD apps, our gaming downloads and custom content from the biggest kids creators in the world. This creates an incredible mix of assets with so much value to advertisers.”

Williams noted that data analytics continues to be an issue due to the need for more standardization. “We’ve developed some proprietary tools that help us collect, normalize and analyze all that disparate data.”

Williams then offered up his predictions on the overall FAST space for kids. “There’s a massive audience of people comfortable turning something on and watching a channel. We think it’s going to grow. We think it’ll go through waves of adding channels and pruning channels. Over the last couple of years, they sped up so fast, and then they had so many channels, and some were just not successful, and they pruned a lot of those channels. Now they’re back into growth mode again. We think they’ll innovate in new ways to transition more fluidly between FAST, on-demand and even subscription. A lot in the ecosystem needs development and innovation that will benefit publishers and studios like us and networks. Long term, monetization has to improve. I think these FAST platforms will learn that they need to embrace as many partners as possible to improve that modernization, too.”