FuboTV Subscribers Show Appetite for Content Other Than Live Sports

    • FuboTV subscribers are consuming more hours of television, as high as 8.5 hours per day, during the pandemic.
    • Streaming service has relied on entertainment options to retain users while sports slowly return.

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FuboTV’s subscribers come for the sports and stay for the entertainment. But it is the latter that has helped the multichannel video programming distributor retain users amid the absence of most live sports.

The average monthly hours watched by subscribers are now up over 140 during the coronavirus pandemic, according to CEO David Gandler. That’s compared to 129 at the end of December and just 50 hours of television consumed at the beginning of 2019.

FuboTV typically measures hours watched by subscribers every 30 days. But Gandler noted that average viewership has peaked at 8.5 hours per day with families quarantined at home. Users are additionally watching content across 19 channels compared to 10 before the coronavirus pandemic.

“That should indicate to you that streaming services need to have an enormous amount of content to keep subscribers engaged,” Gandler said during Credit Suisse’s 22nd Annual Virtual Communications Conference, Wednesday. “That’s why I believe aggregation wins over the long haul.”

That means larger bundles – or channel options available within single apps – will ultimately attract more subscribers to streaming services. Roughly one-third of all of FuboTV’s streaming offerings cannot be found on other MVPD services like YouTube TV, Gandler said.

However, YouTube TV or even Sling TV are not FuboTV’s biggest competitors, at least not at this point.

Gandler refers to those companies as peers, while FuboTV’s real rivals are traditional cable companies like Comcast or Verizon Fios. Combined, the cable industry still controls the lion share of the consumer TV market. About 84 million households in the U.S. still have cable, according to the company.  

“The biggest reason why consumers will cut the cord over the next 12 months is because of price. But then after that, it will be because of the user experience,” Gandler said, adding that FuboTV’s machine learning technology has led to significantly increased hours in viewership via recommendation options.

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Gandler did not provide an update on FuboTV subscriber count. The streaming service ended 2019 with nearly 316,000 users and revenue of $146.5 million. In a May company shareholder letter, FuboTV said it also expected first-quarter revenue in 2020 to increase by at least 75% year-over-year.

Heading into what should be a busier sports calendar in the coming months, FuboTV will ramp up advertising to draw fans. The company is also committed to creating larger bundles around sports while scaling up entertainment options.

In addition to its standard $54.99 package featuring live sports, FuboTV offers sports add-on subscriptions that include channels like NFL Red Zone, NBA TV, NHL Network, and Tennis Channel.

Most streaming services push some of these acquisition costs down to the customer. FuboTV is also not concerned with the rising cost of sports distribution rights from leagues and media partners.

“We’re not worried about it,” Gandler said. “We launched in 2015 at $6.99 per month. We’re now at $54.99, so almost 10 times higher from where we started, yet we have improved retention and grown subscriber count.”