FAST Exec Profiles: Christian Knaebel, FAST Influencer

    Is there such a person as a FAST Influencer? On Wikipedia you can read that an Influencer is a person or organizations who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field. I started to follow Christian on LinkedIn several years back. The main reason was his knowledge in the connected tv industry. His insights and strategic outlooks on LinkedIn gave me valuable data points that I needed in my professional day to day. I strongly believe that Christian has influenced many people in the industry through his LinkedIn posts, panel debates and different speaker sessions.

    When Christian is not writing on LinkedIn he runs Global Media Consult from Stuttgart, Germany. The company is an international boutique consulting firm for TV, media and the creative industries. They focus on strategy & business development, new market and product development, TV channel & platform launches and management, TV content distribution and aggregation.

    Christian Knaebel, Global Media Consult | Navigating the disruption, transformation & developments in the Media / TV / Broadcast Industry and in Work & Life by guiding clients & individuals

    I asked Christian about his take on the 2025 vision of the FAST Industry;

    ”FASTTV has mainly grown in the US market so far and is yet in its infancy outside of that market. However, it is probably since this summer that we see it gaining traction in markets like Europe. I also believe that it is growing faster than anticipated. We will see much more diverse players launching their FASTTV channels – besides the mainly US offers in the market.

    By 2025 every TV business will also have a FAST TV component. We will furthermore see in all major TV markets some local FAST TV platform next to dominant international players such as PlutoTV. By 2025 some operators will have launched their own FAST TV service, too.

    My guess is, in addition, that in markets like Europe FASTTV will be a complimentary service that offers mainly thematic and niche content.

    At Global Media Consult we have started very early to guide clients into the FAST TV world; we were probably one of the first in the international market place that have build the expertise to help clients understand FASTTV and help them to launch their service.

    We will work with many clients over the next few years both on providing guidance and assistance but also also offering some related services ourselves.

    FASTTV is a strategy product and as strategic advisors to our clients it will continue to part of our consulting portfolio along the other different trends and new products that we help clients to understand and develop.”

    What sparked your interest in jumping into the FAST Channel industry? What was that initial moment you first encountered FAST? 

    We were always active in the distribution of TV Channel but have seen a slow down in that market segment over the past decade. In late 2020, we did a review of our TV distribution business and if it’s worthwhile to stay involved. We realized that it would only make sense, if the market opens up in terms of accessibility and monetization. That was around that time when we heard about the growth of AVOD and ad-based streaming in USA. Not sure, if it was already called FASTTV. But we took a closer look and I saw this as an opportunity to get more business in distribution again and, honestly, having more fun again doing that work.

    I then spoke to my contacts in the US markets to better understand this and how we can bring this model into other countries. By early/ mid 2021 we worked on our first FASTTV projects then.”

    Tell us about your company. What do you do and what makes your company stand out in the FAST space. 

    In general, we see us a guide, a navigator that helps clients to make sense of all the disruption and transformation in the TV and wider media industry. We typically work on strategy and business development assignments with clients when it comes to launch a new TV service. We additionally advise on how overall trends influence the industry and what impact this has on TV and media content. Our approach is always focused on the operational, tangible aspects. My team and myself have decades of experience in the industry and held senior management roles. Hence, we know and feel the pain points of our clients.

    This is how we also work on the topic of FASTTV: we explain the trend and how it can or could impact a business. We look at the strategic component of it and how it fits into the clients’ overall positioning and the wider market place. We advise clients on the operational part of it and how they can implement it; yet, what we really can do well is to go beyond the pure transactional side of the product and instead focus the client on how it can transform their business and create value.

    One main distinguisher for us is that we are true experts on this subject matter; we have experience because we actually have done something in FAST TV and can not only share best practices but also benchmarking. Key to our success is furthermore, that we work completely independently of any supplier or platform: we completely focus on what makes best sense for this particular client. Currently most of the advice in the FAST TV industry comes from interested parties who want to sell you something. We are not representing a tech firm or any other supplier – and if push comes to shove, we can even help clients with building there very own solution.

    What are the biggest challenges that you see today and in the next couple of years for FAST Channels and your company? 

    One particular challenge is to better understand the advertising aspect of the FASTTV business and how to assess the market potential. Naturally, many clients ask first: what money is in it for us to be earned in that market. We start to build some insights and metrics to help gauge market potential, but that is very difficult in such a highly dynamic market environment. 

    We have a further challenge in overcoming businesses the ‘not-invented-here-syndrom’: especially larger companies such as telco businesses or operators have this attitude of creating their own teams to develop a new product or higher the vendor to do it for them. It gets even worse, when they hire a big traditional consulting firm. They should rather work with people like us, who can bring a hands-on attitude, an outside perspective, true operational expertise and most of all, the understanding and knowledge of how FASTTV fits into their business from a strategic level. The latter aspect is so often neglected and dimishes the success of FASTTV. Business must understand that it is more than just another video product and monetization opportunity. This requires still a lot of education and is in my opinion the biggest challenge over the next few years.

    What other companies do you look to for inspiration in the FAST industry and what inspires you from them?

    I am a big fan of what PlutoTV does and Tom Ryan with Paramount streaming business at large. They really have opened and grown the FASTTV market not only in the USA but internationally. They have a keen eye on what the consumer wants and really look at local market needs. They understand that one-size-fits-all does not work in FASTTV – even though you need some critical mass in audience share. To find this balance is something they do well.

    And I like how they attracted an audience segment to watch now linear TV; a segment that has not used traditional linear at all so far. They really put Linear TV back on the map – and as a big Linear TV fan and advocate, I very much appreciate that.

    Finally, Tom Ryan and his team – and likely the wider Paramount management  – has embraced Pluto TV / FAST TV as a key strategic element in their growth and business strategy. It works well and is a league of its own.

    Whats your Favourite FAST Channel and why? 

    I am a news junkie and hence I am fan of all the news channels that are now available via FASTTV. In this context, I am also happy as a business that represents news channels and how they can monetize themselves now via FASTTV. It is so difficult to finance a news channel, and yet so important. Hence, I am always thrilled when we can help to launch one or see some of them in the FAST TV feed.

    Unfortunately, many channels,  platforms and advertisers in Europe have not realized that yet. But News is the genre that has one of the biggest potentials on FASTTV both in terms of audience share and advertising revenues. 

    You can find out more about Global Media Consult from their webpage and follow Christian Knaebel on LinkedIn.

    Photo by Matthew Ball on Unsplash

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