FuboTV Adds NASCAR to Pending Sportsbook

Fubo Sportsbook, the pending mobile sportsbook from online streaming platform FuboTV, has signed a partnership agreement with NASCAR to become an “authorized gaming operator” for the stockcar governing body. Fubo Sportsbook and NASCAR will collaborate to provide racing fans with a unique wagering experience.

The launch of Fubo Sportsbook (in Q4 2021) is an industry-first integration of sports wagering and live TV streaming, and is subject to requisite regulatory approvals as the line between professional sports and betting becomes even fuzzier.

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The deal marks Fubo’s first partnership in auto racing and marks its third major marketing deal in the professional sports industry following pacts with the New York Jets (NFL) and Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA).

“We’re eager to partner with NASCAR, a league with a rich history and passionate followers,” Sam Rattner, chief operating officer of Fubo Gaming, said in a statement. “Fubo Sportsbook is continuing to expand its marketing footprint, propelling us toward our goal of reaching sports enthusiasts across the country.”

Fubo Sportsbook will be promoted by NASCAR through a multi-channel marketing campaign bolstered by at-track assets, in-app use of NASCAR-owned track, series and event marks and logos, in addition to the distribution of assets across NASCAR’s digital and social platforms and events.

“Fubo Sportsbook provides us with an opportunity to further expand NASCAR’s reach through a unique sports betting experience,” said Joseph Solosky, managing director of sports betting, NASCAR. “Whether it’s the casual viewer or die-hard race fan, Fubo Sportsbook’s innovative approach to sports wagering brings a more exciting experience for our audience as they’re able to interact with the sport in new ways.”

Legally Challenged Locast Streaming Service Shutters

Locast, the controversial online platform that attempted to stream third-party over-the-air TV network channels free to more than 3 million U.S. users across 13 cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., has ceased operations.

The decision came after a New York judge sided with major media companies Disney, Fox and NBCUniversal, ruling that unauthorized use of their broadcast channels was illegal. Locast argued that as a nonprofit it was immune to copyright laws and merely acting as a “signal booster.”

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The judge disagreed, contending that donation requests from Locast to expand into additional markets voided the company’s nonprofit status.

“Locast was designed from the very beginning to operate in accordance with the strict letter of the law, but in response to the court’s recent rulings, with which we respectfully disagree, we are hereby suspending operations, effective immediately,” the nonprofit said in a statement.

Unique to Locast was that it had received funding from major media companies such as AT&T ($500,000), which owns WarnerMedia, and Google’s YouTube. When AT&T’s DirecTV satellite distributor and U-verse pay-TV channel had a retransmissions fee dispute with ViacomCBS in 2019, it directed its 6.5 million subscribers blacked out from CBS content to use Locast.

Separately, Dish Network offered the Locast app to its satellite and Sling TV subs as an alternative on its AirTV devices.

FuboTV Acquires Italian Soccer Streaming Rights for Canada

Online TV sports streaming service FuboTV Aug. 19 announced it has acquired the exclusive streaming rights for Coppa Italia and Serie A professional soccer distributed in Canada.

ViacomCBS’s streaming platform Paramount+ holds the U.S. streaming rights to Serie A and Coppa Italia.

Fubo’s Coppa Italia agreement includes a minimum of 41 live matches per season from the annual Italian cup competition, plus the Supercoppa Italiana. All matches will stream exclusively in Canada on FuboTV. FuboTV’s coverage is in partnership with sports marketing agency S&T Sports Group.

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The online TV platform will also be the exclusive English language Canadian home of Italy’s Serie A soccer league. The agreement was brokered by Infront, the international media rights partner of Lega Serie A in Canada. Serie A consists of 380 matches annually with FuboTV’s coverage beginning Aug. 21.

“With Canadians cutting the cord at an increasing pace comparable to the U.S. market, according to a report by Boon Dog Professional Services, we see a tremendous growth opportunity,” David Gandler,  co-founder and CEO of New York-based FuboTV, said in a statement.

The agreements mark the latest moves by FuboTV to differentiate its sports-first programming with exclusive soccer rights. Earlier this year, FuboTV acquired the exclusive streaming rights to the Qatar World Cup 2022 Qualifying matches of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) in the United States. The platform also has exclusive Canadian streaming rights for the Liga MX home matches of Club Deportivo Guadalajara S.A. de C.V. (Chivas), in addition to streaming international soccer leagues like French Ligue 1 locally through its content partners.

FuboTV Capturing Stake in Live Sports/Betting Streaming Market

The subscription streaming video market is embracing live sports and gambling, and upstart online TV service fuboTV is leading the way.

The New York-based platform reported 138% year-over-year growth in total paid subscribers to 681,721, including 91,291 net sub additions in the second quarter, ended June 30. The company expects upwards of 910,000 subs by the end of the year.

Total revenue increased 196% to $130.9 million from the previous-year period, and advertising revenue shot up 281% to $16.5 million. Engagement also reached all-time highs with fuboTV subs streaming 245 million hours of content during the quarter, a 148% increase year-over-year.

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The platform has begun beta testing predictive, free-to-play gaming ahead of an expected launch this fall. The Fubo Sportsbook with real-money wagering remains on track for a fourth-quarter launch as the company plans to further combine interactivity with streaming video.

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said he expects fuboTV to double its sub base within the next two years, topping 1.2 million.

“FuboTV’s ability to offer comprehensive entertainment and sports viewing is a real differentiator, and its focus on the sports viewer/bettor should serve to accelerate subscriber growth,” Pachter wrote in an Aug. 11 note.

The analyst contends fuboTV to satisfy regulatory gaming requirements in up to three states by year end, and add another three states in 2022 as state government and sports gambling further meld.

“As fuboTV becomes more expert in dealing with the regulators, we expect [the platform] to ultimately offer real money wagering in 40 states,” Pachter wrote.

“If the company is ultimately successful in attracting free users to its app and converting some of these to real money wagering, it could generate as much as $2,000 in annual handle per paying user.”

The “handle” is the total amount of money that is wagered on a sporting event.

“It is too early to determine whether fuboTV can attract one million free app users…but if so, it could generate $20 million of annual high margin revenue for each one million free users,” Pachter wrote.

Parks: 82% of U.S. Broadband Homes Have at Least One OTT Service Subscription

Parks Associates disclosed that 82% of U.S. broadband households subscribe to at least one OTT service, up six points year-over-year, while 58% subscribe to a traditional pay-TV service, down four points year-over-year.

“The steady rise in online pay-TV adoption has made up for some of the significant drops in traditional pay-TV,” Steve Nason, research director for Parks Associates, said in a statement. “Video consumers are looking to online pay-TV services to offer a similar viewing experience and content offering at a lower price point. However, online providers, who don’t typically generate content on their own, have had trouble stabilizing subscriber costs as content fees continue to rise.”

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Dallas-based Parks reports that 25% of domestic broadband households subscribe to a TV service offering a bundle of live channels via an online provider, including 13% who have both traditional and online pay-TV services. Adoption of online TV increased four percentage points to 18% in Q1 2021. As cord-cutters or cord-nevers look for a more live/linear video viewing experience online, online  service uptake has picked up.

“The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many existing trends in the video services market,” Nason said. “Moving forward, consumer preferences will continue to shift online as video viewers perceive these services to be less costly, more convenient, and more aligned with how they want to consume video programming.”

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.