FuboTV — the live streaming service that started out in 2015 appealing to soccer fans — is about to find out whether it’s ready to compete in the big leagues against rivals such as DirecTV Now and Sling TV.
The independently owned company says today that it will more than double its national channel line up to offer a sports -focused package that includes more than 70 channels from providers including Fox Networks Group, NBCUniversal, and A+E Networks.
A beta version of the offering is due to go live the first week of January at a discounted price of $34.99 a month. That’s targeted to rise to $49.99, but with additional networks.
“We felt the timing was perfect given what’s happening in the marketplace and our ability to compete at a high level with these other guys,” Co-founder and CEO David Gandler says.
The package offers two simultaneous streams with DVR functionality, and VOD. Programming will run on desktop browsers, Android and iOS devices, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Kindle Fire, and Roku.
By February subscribers will be able to watch live Fox, NBC, and Telemundo programming if they live in a market with a network-owned station. They and others can watch the networks’ prime time shows on a delayed basis on VOD. The company expects to make deals with companies that own network affiliates in other markets.
Sports-focused services in the package will include Fox and NBC regional sports networks (including the New York Yankees’ YES), as well as BTN, FS1, FS2, Fox College Sports, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Deportes, Golf Channel, NBA TV, NBCSN.
Gandler says Fubo will honor local blackout deals.
The bundle also will include Univision, USA , Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC, CNBC, A&E, Bravo, E!, FX, National Geographic, Oxygen, Revolt, SyFy, Viceland, NBC Universo, Universal HD, Sprout, and El Rey.
Gandler recognizes that it might be hard to appeal to sports fans without channels such as ESPN, MLB Network, and NFL Network.
But he says that “we’re not resting on our laurels” and “there are consumers out there who are willing to take less and pay less for it.”
He won’t say how many subscribers Fubo has now; in June the company disclosed that it had about 71,000. About 90% of the current audience is male, and 75% are between 18 and 34.
“That’s what we’re going to continue to focus in on,” Gandler says. And he wants to appeal to the 20 million or so households that don’t subscribe to traditional pay TV. “We’re not trying to steal share from anybody. We think there is enough to go around right now.”
Fubo is part of T-Mobile’s Binge On plan that enables the phone company’s wireless subscribers to watch without incurring data charges.
Yet Gandler says that AT&T’s ability to waive data charges for its wireless customers who subscribe to the telco’s DirecTV Now “is not fair. We’ll have to wait and see what the government says about that.” If DirecTV Now has that advantage “we’ll have to figure out how to optimize the content and deliver it in a way that’s more efficient and more effective for consumers.”
In February several established media powers — including 21st Century Fox and Sky — participated in a $15 million Series B funding round. Other investors include LionTree Partners, former Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., ICM Partners’ Chris Silbermann, and former NBA Commissioner David Stern.