FuboTV Seeks to Follow Cheddar Playbook with Sports Network Launch

Multi-stage launch of Fubo Sports Network will also include distribution on Xumo
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FuboTV, which has branded itself as the sports-fueled alternative in a competitive market for virtual MVPD distributors, is now creating its own network.

The startup today soft-launched Fubo Sports Network, a digital channel that it hopes will some day become a full-fledged, 24-hour network devoted to event coverage and studio analysis, similar to how Cheddar, recently acquired by Altice USA, gestated around financial news.

“There’s an opportunity to cater to the demand for free content,” said David Gandler, FuboTV’s co-founder and CEO, speaking to Variety. “We want to be able to make sure we tap into that part of the spectrum in terms of entry-level video.”

Initial distribution of the channel will occur not just on the basic tier of the FuboTV virtual pay TV service, but also Xumo, the AVOD platform distributed into 35 million U.S. homes via primarily smart TV integration deals. Gandler told Variety that he hopes to enlist initial distribution partners and up reach to 50 million homes by August.

Gandler hopes to generate $5 million in incremental ad revenue from such “off-platform” distribution in year one.

For all of its access to regional sports networks and various soccer-themed programming from throughout Europe and Latin America, fuboTV lacks ESPN. And as Variety noted, Fubo Sports Network won’t necessarily fill that void.

Initially, the channel will be programmed by a slate of recycled content, with live-streaming of various niche sports thrown in. Original studio shows should roll out in August, however, along with sports-themed movies.

“It’s a more edgy version of a sports network,” Gandler added.

Fubo has raised more than $150 million in venture capital, from investors including Sky, Scripps networks, AMC Networks and 21st Century Fox. Being a startup inured from the vagaries of quarterly earnings reports has served the company well, given price pressure of the low-margin vMVPD business.

The company must account for the same intense gravity of the vMVPD business—Fubo recently hiked the base tiger of its fuboTV virtual pay TV service to $55 a month.

However, it is doing some interesting things that other vMVPDs aren’t. For instance, in addition to launching its own sports programming network, the company launched vMVPD service in Spain last last year. 

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