The Five Spot: Pamela Duckworth, Head of fubo Sports Network and Original Programming, fuboTV

Launching 24-hour online sports news network offers veteran executive a big-league creative challenge
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BONUS FIVE

What are you binge-watching?
Killing Eve
All-time favorite show? Modern Family
Destinations on your bucket list? Bali is the top of the list. Oh, I definitely want to do a dude ranch in Montana next year.
Books on your nightstand? I love hardcover books. I am reading Bob Iger’s Ride of a Lifetime.
Favorite podcast? Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. I find it inspiring and uplifting.

Pamela Duckworth

Pamela Duckworth

As a startup entering the the ultra-competitive virtual multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) market, fuboTV made a strategic move towards business-model diversification over the summer, launching fubo Sports Network, a 24-hour, studio-based sports news channel. Available on Roku, ad-supported video-on-demand platform Xumo and other parts of the over-the-top ecosystem beyond just fuboTV, the 24-hour service is themed around fuboTV’s area of focus — the global soccer scene — as well as other sports that are considered niche in the U.S. The channel’s tone spans from straightforward sports news and analysis to comedy. The model follows that of Cheddar, the 24-hour digital news network that was purchased by Altice USA for $200 million earlier this year.

The woman in charge of the network and its programming is Pamela Duckworth, who was head of advertising production and events at DirecTV from 2006 to 2016. She spoke with Multichannel News senior content producer, technology Daniel Frankel.

Why do you think you were chosen to lead the studio programming initiative? I had been working with the team at fuboTV since 2017, overseeing their commercial campaigns. One day, [co-founder/CEO] David Gandler told me he wanted to launch a linear sports network and he wanted me to run it. I’m always up for a challenge, and with my 25-plus years of experience in entertainment and as an executive producer, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up.

What is the “brand lens” of the fubo Sports Network? Who specifically are you targeting? We actually talk about our brand lens all the time because we see fubo Sports Network as an evolving brand, much the same way the media space is constantly changing. Fubo Sports Network targets passionate sports fans who want to consume all things sports both on and off the field. On the field, we’re airing a wide range of sports — from college football to more niche sports like 6 vs. 6 soccer. But off the field is really where fubo Sports Network is different. Our original programming leans into comedy as a way to talk about sports.

How challenging are your budget constraints right now? We’re a startup within a startup, so budget concerns are real. We have to get extremely creative with how we pull off producing and acquiring our programming.

Julie Stewart-Banks (l.) interviews ex-NFL player Ryan Nece on fubo Sports Network’s “Call It a Night.”

Julie Stewart-Banks (l.) interviews ex-NFL player Ryan Nece on fubo Sports Network’s “Call It a Night.”

Where do you see fubo Sports Network in one year? Five years? Our goal for year one is growth — we want to keep growing the network with more content and more distribution, bring on more sales partners and, ultimately, grow eyeballs. Our five-year goal would be to become a place that viewers rely on to get their fill of sports-centric comedy, a wide variety of sports coverage and on the flip side, to also be a place that content creators want to work with.

How much autonomy do you have on creative decisions? I love being collaborative and foster that environment with my team. With that said, the creative decisions ultimately fall on my shoulders. I am a big risk-taker, so this is something I welcome.

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