FuboTV Viewership Rebounds to Pre-COVID Levels, More Pricing Experiments Coming, Turner Channels Not Likely to Return
As part of their 2021 Q4 earnings release, fuboTV reported that they added approximately 185,000 subscribers in the final quarter of last year to take their total over 1.1 million. The company saw an increase of subscribers by 106% compared to the prior year, but added about 77,000 fewer subscribers than they did in Q3.
Additionally, fuboTV customers streamed 404 million hours of content during the quarter, a 96% increase YoY. That increase in streaming hours has continued thus far into 2022.
“One interesting item of note is that when you look at our January viewership numbers in terms of engagement, those have already ticked north of 130 hours,” CEO David Gandler said. “And we haven’t seen 130 hours plus since February of 2020, right before COVID.”
FuboTV expects to hit 1.5 million subscribers by the end of the year in North America alone, with almost a quarter-million in the rest of the world.
By comparison, fuboTV continues to be about a quarter of the size of Hulu Live TV — which last month reported 4.3 million subscribers — and half that of Sling TV, which ended the year with 2.49 million subscribers.
In December, as fuboTV’s stock dropped significantly, Gandler seemed to warn subscribers of an upcoming price hike. He said, “If anyone can afford to raise prices on consumers, it’s going to be fubo.”
On the earnings call, he seemed to broach the subject again. “We think that our product is priced well for the value that we provide, and we think there’s probably a little bit more room there given that we still are facing some inflationary pressure.”
Earlier this month, for the second year in a row, fuboTV experimented with moving their plans from monthly to quarterly subscriptions. As they did in 2021, the company reversed course after only a matter of days. However, that doesn’t seem to have dissuaded them from being open to other experiments in the future.
During the call with investors, Gandler said, “You should anticipate that we’ll continue to experiment just to better understand sort of what the value is for us and also what the expectations are for consumers.”
Despite being billed as a service for sports fans, access to NHL and MLB coverage still spotty on the service. Gandler has previously dropped hints that Turner channels TNT and TBS may be coming back to the platform in an effort to increase NBA, MLB, and NCAA men’s basketball coverage. However, on the Q4 earnings call, he seemed to indicate that the streamer was in no rush to bring the networks back on board.
“With respect to sports content, as you know, we didn’t have Turner last year either, and we managed pretty well,” Gandler said. “The teams are using all the data coming in and the platform is also providing the type of content today that we think will keep consumers engaged. But obviously, we have to be a little bit conservative because really sometimes it really depends on the type of tournament, the teams, and I guess the story line.”
While it might be a while until TNT and TBS are available on fuboTV, the company did recently reach a deal with FOX Sports to secure the exclusive U.S. broadcast rights to select UEFA soccer matches.
Moving forward, the company is planning to focus on brand positioning first, putting channel acquisition second. If sports fans are unable to watch games, however, will things like features and branding even matter?
fuboTV is a live TV streaming service with about 90 channels for $69.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 27 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs).
The streaming service does not carry channels from WarnerMedia-owned (CNN, TBS, and TNT) and those from A+E (A&E, History Channel, and Lifetime).
fuboTV also includes MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL RedZone , NHL Network, and beIN Sports (which is not available on most services). You can add Fox Soccer Plus as part of the International Sports Plus add-on for $6/month.