FuboTV Set to Join Russell 3000 Index

FuboTV, the sports-themed online live TV streaming platform, June 22 announced it is set to join the broad-market Russell 3000 Index on June 28, according to a preliminary list of index additions posted June 4.

Annual Russell indexes capture the 4,000 largest U.S. stocks, ranking them by total market capitalization. Membership in the U.S. Russell 3000 Index, which remains in place for one year, means automatic inclusion in the Russell 1000 Index or Russell 2000 Index as well as the appropriate growth and value style indexes. Russell determines membership for its indexes primarily by objective, market-capitalization rankings and style attributes.

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Russell indexes are widely used by investment managers and institutional investors for index funds and as benchmarks for active investment strategies. Approximately $10.6 trillion in assets are benchmarked against Russell’s U.S. indexes.

“We are pleased with the interest fuboTV has received from the investor community in such a short period following our listing on the New York Stock Exchange last October,” co-founder/CEO David Gandler said in a statement. “The addition of fuboTV to the [index] is an important milestone for the company as we stay laser-focused on defining a new category of interactive television while delivering significant shareholder value.”

In addition to online TV service, FuboTV is aggressively entering the online sports betting business — a market both Disney’s ESPN and Fox Sports are gravitating towards.

Is Shine Off Online Pay-Television?

Lost in the hoopla of Disney+ surpassing 103 million subscribers in the second quarter (ended April 3) was the reality that the online TV market leader, Hulu + Live TV, lost 200,000 subscribers during the same quarter. The 5% decline from 4 million subs likely attributed in part to a $10 price hike Disney imposed upon the platform last December.

But Hulu isn’t alone. Sling TV, which Dish Network launched in 2015, lost 100,000 subs in the quarter to 2.37 million. AT&T TV, formerly DirecTV Now and AT&T TV Now, reportedly declined to around 650,000 subscribers in early 2020 — about two-thirds fewer subs when the service launched in 2018.

And Google-owned YouTube TV saw its 3 million-sub base unchanged over the past four months, while T-Mobile this year threw in the towel on its upstart TVision platform with about 100,000 subs. Sony’s PlayStation Vue service shuttered in January 2020 after almost five years of sluggish sub growth.

That’s a trend in the wrong direction considering TDG Research in December 2020 predicted strong growth for the 6-year-old market.

“The number of virtual pay-TV households will increase five-fold by the end of the next decade, topping 24 million by 2030,” senior analyst Joel Espelien wrote in a December 2020 note. “Importantly, this growth will come almost exclusively at the cost of legacy subscriptions.”

Indeed, fuboTV and Philo have added subscribers, the former tacking on 42,550 subs to top 590,000 subs in the quarter. Philo says that as of August 2020, it had 750,000 subs.

Overall, the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered pay-TV services combined for about 6.7 million subs — less than 10% of the top pay-TV providers with about 78.7 million combined subs.

“A whole generation of customers likely viewed [online TV] quizzically, as a solution to a problem they didn’t have,” MoffettNathanson wrote in a note last year. “The real issue was the grid. Not the user interface grid, by the way, but instead the very idea of a [program] schedule. Why would anyone want to view entertainment content on a schedule, much less someone else’s schedule?”

Verizon Offering Limited Free Access to Sling TV

In a marketing twist, Verizon is making it easier for its subscribers to discover a new way to watch television — on a competitor’s platform. Starting May 19, new and existing Verizon subs with a wireless, Fios TV or 5G Home account can get two months of Sling TV service for free. The platform’s domestic and international services cost $35 monthly thereafter. Spanish-language Sling costs $15 monthly after a three-month free trial on Verizon.

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Launched 2015 by Dish Network, Sling TV was the first standalone online TV service that offered access to marquee pay-TV channels such as ESPN without a traditional bundled subscription. Verizon subs can download the Sling app on their streaming devices and then watch news, sports and 80,000 on-demand TV shows and movies.

“We’ll continue to lead the market with our delivery of not only unmatched value in live TV, but also unique, customer-centric packaging flexibility and innovation across live sports, news and entertainment,” Michael Schwimmer, group president of Sling TV, said in a statement.

To get two months of Sling TV on Verizon, sign in to the My Verizon App. Scroll down and tap the Sling TV tile. Review the redemption page and tap Go to Sling TV. Select a Sling TV service, and then create an account. You will be required to provide an email address and valid form of payment (credit card, debit card or PayPal). Check your email for a message from Sling confirming that your account has been activated and how to start streaming.

“This partnership enables our customers to watch live television when, where and how they want,” said Erin McPherson, head of consumer content and partnerships at Verizon. “We are excited to provide even more value and choice as we welcome Sling TV to our ecosystem of incredible partners and services.”

Verizon also has a free 12-month promotional deal with Disney+.

FuboTV Ups Q1 Subscribers — and Fiscal Loss

Sports-themed online TV platform FuboTV May 11 reported the strongest fiscal first quarter in its history, upping revenue 135% to $119.7 million, from $51 million in the previous-year period. Net loss increased 5% to $70.2 million, from $66.4 million.

Subscriptions across the U.S., Canada and Spain increased 105% to 590,430, from 287,000, including 43,000 net additions in the quarter. Advertising revenue skyrocketed 206% to $12.6 million, from $6.1 million.

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In a shareholder letter, co-founder/CEO David Gandler and executive chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. said pay-TV consumers have awoken to the concept of standalone live-streaming sports streaming. The $54.99 monthly platform features 100+ live TV channels, including 42 of the top
50 Nielsen-ranked networks across sports, news and entertainment.

The company is projecting 803,000 subs by the end of the year, including 603,000 subs through the end of the current fiscal quarter.

“Our differentiation in the marketplace — sports-focused programming, a tech-first and data-driven user experience and the planned integration of wagering and interactivity — firmly positions the company strongly for long-term growth,” Gandler and Bronfman wrote. The latter was CEO of Warner Music Group from 2004 to 2011, and chairman of Warner Music Group from 2011 to 2012.

“We believe the macro tailwinds are strong,” Gandler and Bronfman wrote.

Sling TV Narrows Online Subscriber Loss

Dish Network’s online TV platform Sling TV in the first quarter of this year lost 100,000 subs, an improvement from a loss of 281,000 subs in the previous-year period. The platform ended the three-month period, which ended March 31, with 2.37 million subs, compared with 2.47 million subs at the end of 2020.

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The decrease in Sling sub losses was primarily related to lower subscriber disconnects resulting from Dish focusing on acquiring and retaining higher-quality (i.e. more expensive) subs, partially offset by lower Sling TV subscriber activations.

“We continue to experience increased competition, including competition from other subscription video on-demand and live-linear OTT service providers [such as Hulu and AT&T TV],” the company said in a filing. “The three months ended March 31, 2020, was negatively impacted by delays and cancellations of sporting events as a result of COVID-19.”

Sling TV launched in 2015 to help pay-TV operators offer standalone access to premium linear channels. Since then, the service has struggled to maintain its market position, as Disney-owned Hulu with Live TV now leads the market with more than 4 million subs.

Pay-TV subs decreased by about 230,000 in the first quarter, compared to a decrease of about 413,000 subs in the previous-year quarter. The company closed the quarter with 11.06 pay-TV subs, which includes 8.69 million Dish TV subs and 2.37 million Sling TV subs.


Parks: Monthly Consumer Spending on OTT Video Services Doubled in 2020

Parks Associates March 25 reported that U.S. broadband households spent an average of $16 per month on OTT video services in early 2020, double ($8) what they spent in 2018. The Dallas-based research firm also found that 45% of survey respondents with traditional pay-TV said they are likely to switch to an online TV multichannel video programming distributor in the next 12 months.

Online TV platforms include market leader Hulu+Live TV, Sling TV, AT&T TV, YouTube TV, Fubo TV and Philo, among others.

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“Today’s video services market is in a historic state of disruption and disarray,” senior analyst Paul Erickson said in a statement. “Our Q3 2020 survey finds 29% of current subscribers to traditional pay TV are unhappy with the price and value of their service, and [online TV providers] are seeking to address that need with a variety of different bundles and value propositions.”

“We saw an unprecedented acceleration of consumer interest in aggregators and [online TV] in 2020, and there’s still a lot of room to grow viewership — especially through exceptional content discovery, 47% of viewers still turn to traditional pay-TV to find their next show, compared to 18% for [online TV],” added Nic Wilson, head of customer success at TiVo.

Sling TV Reverses Q4 Sub Loss, Still Down for Fiscal Year

Online TV market founder Sling TV Feb. 22 reported a gain of 16,000 subscribers for the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2020). That compared with a loss of 94,000 subs in the previous-year period. It was the second-consecutive quarterly subscriber gain after three quarters of losses. The Dish Network-owned subsidiary ended the fiscal year with 2.47 million subs, down 118,000 subs from the end of 2019.

Dish’s legacy satellite TV service lost 133,000 subs in the quarter, in addition to 578,000 in the year. The operator ended 2020 with 8.81 million subs compared with 9.4 million in 2019.

On the fiscal call, Dish CEO Charlie Ergen lamented the lost opportunities around Sling’s first-mover advantage in online TV.

“We stumbled a little there with the quality of the user experience,” Ergen said. “Our network was the best and the first, but we got a little complacent.”

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When Sling launched in early 2015, it was the first time a pay-TV operator had offered a standalone online TV service, including landmark access to ESPN outside the traditional cable bundle. The market, which quickly included DirecTV Now (now AT&T TV), Charter Spectrum TV Plus, YouTube TV, Philo, Fubo TV, and (now shuttered) Sony PlayStation Vue, among others, was seen as a strategic alternative to cord-cutting and the exploding over-the-top video ecosystem driven by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Interestingly, Hulu’s branded online TV platform, Hulu+Live TV, now leads the online TV market with more than 4 million subscribers, compared with 3.2 million at the end of 2019. Hulu is now the fifth-largest pay-TV operator in the country.

While Hulu’s growth is due in part to being bundled with Disney+ and ESPN+ in a promotional $12.99 monthly package, the online TV market has upped availability of transactional VOD movies to drive subscriber growth and retention.

Parks Associates found that 60% of pay-TV subs (accounting for nearly half of U.S. broadband households) stream movies and TV shows from an online video service as part of their legacy subscription. Linear-TV subs subscribing to online video services has increased 50% in the past year.

YouTube TV Bows 4K Content, Will Launch Mobile Phone Video Tool to Compete With TikTok

Online TV platform YouTube TV has 3 million subscribers, 85 channels and access to the MLB World Series and the NFL, among other high-profile events. Now, the Google-owned platform is offering subs access to 4K content (4K HD TV required), offline content, and unlimited concurrent streams at home so the whole family can stream on different screens at once.

YouTube TV now supports a combination of SD, HD, 4K, VR, HDR and live video, as well as DVR on nearly every device with an Internet connection — from desktops to mobile, and gaming consoles to VR headsets.

“While the majority of YouTube videos are watched on mobile, our fastest area of growth is the TV,” Neal Mohan, chief product officer for YouTube, wrote in a blog post. “Later this year, we’ll launch a redesign of the YouTube VR app homepage to improve navigation, accessibility and search functionality.”

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Separately, Google in March will roll out YouTube Shorts, a mobile phone-centric platform that aims to compete with TikTok, enabling creators and artists to shoot snappy videos. Currently, Shorts is available in beta in India. Since the beginning of December, the number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the YouTube Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally, according to the company.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll begin expanding the beta to the U.S., unlocking our tools to even more creators so they can get started with Shorts,” Mohan wrote.

Comcast Discloses 9.3% Stake in Fubo TV

Comcast has acquired a 9.3% minority stake in fubo TV, the online TV subscription service featuring live sports and soon gambling. The corporate parent to NBCUniversal and Peacock and Xumo streaming services disclosed the stake in a Feb. 12 fiscal filing. Other media company co-owners include Disney and ViacomCBS.

Fubo TV, which launched an IPO last year, has been on a rollercoaster for investors as its stock fluctuates wildly (up 275%) on market speculation. Driving the interest is sports wagering. Fubo, like Disney, Fox and others, is looking to appeal to more than live-sports streamers through legalized gambling.

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Fubo entered 2021 with about 545,000 subscribers paying from $65 monthly for access to more than 100 channels, including 40 sports-themed. The six-year-old service last year acquired Balto Sports, a backend developer of fantasy sports gaming software. Last month, fubo expanded to sports gambling by acquiring Vigtory, an interactive sports gaming company.

The moves don’t excite Richard Greenfield, media analyst with Lightshed Partners, who contends Fubo is just another online TV service struggling to compete in a market led by Hulu+Live TV, AT&T TV and Dish-owned Sling TV. Hulu has about 4 million subs, while industry pioneer Sling has slightly more than half that.

Online TV launched in 2015 as way for pay-TV operators to compete against Netflix and the rising tide of over-the-top video distributors. Despite initial success, Sling has struggled to retain subscribers. Sony shuttered PlayStation Vue, while AT&T rebooted DirecTV Now with AT&T TV.

“Fubo TV is not Netflix, Fubo is not Flutter/FanDuel, DraftKings nor even Penn/Barstool Sports, Fubo is not Roku and Fubo is not Trade Desk,” Greenfield, Brandon Ross and Mark Kelley wrote in a December post. “Fubo is simply just another virtual multichannel video programming distributor facing the same obstacles and financial challenges as every other [online TV platform].”


Data: It’s Not Just a Netflix World

Netflix has started 2021 the same way it ended 2020: On top of the over-the-top world. The latest Nielsen weekly Top 10 streaming VOD chart saw Netflix’s programming again dominating with 90% of the most-viewed programs on the television.

But new data from Reelgood finds Netflix isn’t alone when it comes to the Top 10 services offering original and catalog movies and TV shows. Indeed, among the top domestic streaming services based on total hours of content, Disney/Comcast-owned Hulu ranked No. 1, followed by Fox Entertainment’s AVOD platform Tubi and Amazon Prime Video. Netflix ranked fourth, ahead of online TV service Philo, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, Fubo TV, CBS All Access, Vudu and IMDb TV.

Reelgood scans data on movies TV shows across more than 150 SVOD, AVOD and TVOD platforms.

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Hulu also ranked No. 1 based on hours of exclusive content, followed by Netflix, Philo, Prime Video, Tubi, Fubo TV, CBS All Access, Pluto TV, IMDb TV and HBO Max.

Netflix ranked No. 1 based on hours of “fresh” and original content, ahead of Hulu and Philo, and HBO Max and Hulu, respectively.

In a move that likely comes as no surprise, many of the major SVOD services are steadily increasing their catalog of original TV shows at the expense of licensed content. Netflix is the biggest mover with original series making up 39% of its TV shows catalog through Jan. 15 — up 14 share points from the same period in 2019. While HBO Max does have 31% more originals this year than HBO Now did last January, the number of licensed TV shows on the service also went up to 330 from 40, hence the dramatic decline in catalog real estate occupied by its homegrown content.

“In an effort to retain and acquire new subscribers, the leading SVOD platforms are working to maintain a high percentage of content in their libraries that cannot be found elsewhere,” read the report.

Among content genres, Tubi and Hulu topped action/adventure and animation, respectively. Crunchyroll and Hulu topped anime and comedy, respectively, while Hulu and Philo topped crime and documentary, respectively, according to the report.

Netflix and Hulu ranked No.1 for family and drama, while Tubi and Hulu ranked firs for horror and romance. Netflix and Tubi were No. 1 for sci-fi and westerns, respectively.