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Fox CEO Doesn’t See Live Sports Figuring Into Streaming Plans

Matt Tamanini

It is no secret that live sports are the major driver for all things television, whether that is on broadcast, cable, or streaming. But in a conversation at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference on Thursday, Fox’s CEO Lachlan Murdoch indicated that the focus for the company is to keep their sports rights on broadcast, rather than funneling them towards streaming like many of their competitors.

In recent weeks, there has been increased chatter about even more live sports coming to streaming services as Peacock and Apple TV+ land deals with Major League Baseball and HBO Max will begin airing U.S. National Team soccer games, but Fox is keeping their most valuable rights on their biggest platform: Broadcast. Unlike all three of its network counterparts, Fox does not have a subscriber-based streaming service that would benefit from the addition of exclusive, live sports. Instead, Fox operates Tubi, a free ad-supported TV (FAST) service.

Therefore, short of launching their own subscription-fueled service, Tubi would be the likely home for any sports rights that Fox moved to streaming, but that doesn’t appear to be the focus for Murdoch.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights onto a streaming service,” the CEO said. “We think it’s very important those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment … We are not trying to support subscription numbers in an SVOD business.”

Chief amongst all live sports rights is the NFL, and Fox still owns half of the Sunday afternoon broadcast package. The network previously shared the Thursday night football rights, but Amazon is taking over those broadcasts this season. So, if Fox wanted to make a streaming play with its current rights, it would need to be on Sunday afternoon. However, as fans can already stream local Fox games for free via the NFL and Yahoo! Sports apps, it doesn’t make sense why they wouldn’t want to offer them on the Fox Sports App or Tubi.

While it is unlikely that Fox will move live sports to Tubi anytime soon, Murdoch did indicate that the FAST streamer is very much a part of the company’s future plans. He said that the service is “a huge opportunity for us … We don’t want to take our foot off the gas yet.”

Tubi is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 41,000+ movies and television shows - more than any other streaming service. Fox executives have called their service “TV on steroids.”

Tubi’s programming includes films and television series from Fox Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and more.

Tubi

Tubi is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 45,000+ movies and television shows - more than any other streaming service. Its ad breaks are shorter and less frequent than most free services. Fox executives have called their service “TV on steroids.”

Tubi’s programming includes films and television series from Fox Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and more.

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