• Plucky fuboTV Approaches 250K Paid Subscribers, Exceeds $100 Million in Annualized Revenues

    fuboTV, which started as a niche sports streaming service, but has expanded its scope to become a fully-featured virtual MVPD or “skinny bundle,” announced it is closing in on 250K paid subscribers and also has exceeded $100 million in annualized revenues. The new metrics were part of a broader performance update the company provided yesterday, which also included the following:

    - ARPU up 80%+ in September ’18 to $40, from $22 a year ago

    - Time spent per user up 364%+ to 51 hours in September ’18 vs. 11 hours a year ago.

    - App downloads up 418%+ to a total of 752K total downloads as of September ’18, a 600K+ increase over the past year.

    fuboTV has executed well in multiple areas, but one thing in particular - methodically adding local broadcast channels in many markets - has no doubt had a major impact. A few weeks ago fuboTV said it was now carrying 486 local channels, with Fox having 93% coverage of U.S. households, NBC 76% and CBS 71%. ABC is clearly still an issue for fuboTV, but the company is moving in the right direction.

    While I was historically quite skeptical about skinny bundles’ prospects, I have become much more bullish this year, as these services (led by Hulu Live, YouTube TV and DirecTV Now) have embraced carrying local broadcasters. That’s important because broadcast is still the most popular content on TV and for many prospective cord-shifters from traditional pay-TV, these channels are table stakes.

    The challenge for the skinny bundles is that carrying these local channels is expensive. Balancing their cost against trying to maintain low, attractive prices to induce consumers, and still turn a profit is a major juggling act. This is why I’ve highlighted AT&T, Disney and Google as the 3 most important companies in the pay-TV industry now. Each has deep pockets and strong strategic rationales to support their respective unprofitable skinny bundles.

    On the other end, fuboTV, as an independent, privately financed company, is in more of a “sink or swim” situation with its standalone skinny bundle. An analogous situation comes to mind in the connected TV device space, where, against all odds, Roku has succeeded in spite of much larger competitors like Amazon, Google and Apple. Roku has a well-earned A+ in execution. fuboTV needs to also continue its strong execution, and may yet turn out to be the next startup to carve its own path to success.