Sports streamer fuboTV to expand into ad-supported free streaming, original content

The sports-focused streaming service fuboTV will soon follow the rest of the industry by offering its own free and ad-supported streaming channel, in addition to its paid subscription, sometime later this year. The news was exclusively shared with The Wrap (paywalled) in an interview with fuboTV co-founder and CEO David Gandler.

FuboTV confirmed the accuracy of the report to TechCrunch, but declined to provide further details about its forthcoming plans.

Gandler characterized its ad-supported video plans as being “a little bit smaller and more straightforward” than others on the market, but said the company believes it will help fuboTV’s profitability.

The company has been steadily expanding its streaming service beyond sports over the past couple of years, with deals to add channels to its lineup, including Cheddar, CBSN, CBS Sports Network, The CW, Pop and others. Last year, it also launched an “Extra” tier that offers other lifestyle and entertainment channels like BBC World News, Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Game Show Network, Sony Movie Channel, BabyTV, Revolt and INSP, as well as streaming channels like Stadium and People TV, among others.

The cord-cutting news site Cord Cutters News and The Streamable both earlier reported some of these networks would come to a fuboTV free streaming service, citing The Wrap, but the company tells us that’s not accurate.

To clarify the earlier reports, a fuboTV spokesperson told us that “fuboTV believes in the future of pay TV and we are looking at launching an ad-supported channel not a platform.”

FuboTV hasn’t yet detailed its plans for the ad-supported content. But today the market includes the likes of Roku’s TV and movies hub, The Roku Channel; Walmart-owned Vudu’s “Movies on Us;” Amazon-owned IMDb’s Freedive; Sinclair’s STIRR; Viacom’s Pluto TV and others.

The spokesperson said fuboTV’s ad-supported plans wouldn’t rival these existing properties, however. They noted that live original programming would be a part of the ad-supported channel.

Related to its efforts in ad-supported content, fuboTV recently hired Sling TV ad sales exec Chris Flatley, who will assume the role of VP of Ad Sales. He will report to Chief Strategy Officer Hannah Brown and will be based in fuboTV’s NYC headquarters.

The Wrap had also reported that fuboTV will debut a minute-long ad break called “Sports Break,” which will include short-form original content in between two ads in Q3 2019; and it noted fuboTV’s plans for original content. The ad-supported content will debut in either Q3 or Q4, its report said.

FuboTV reported in October 2018 it had grown to nearly 250,000 subscribers — or more than double the 100,000 it had in October 2017. It also claimed an annualized revenue rate run rate of $102 million in September 2018, compared to $28 million in September 2017. At the beginning of 2019, the service raised prices on legacy subscribers by $10 per month, bringing them in line with the $54.99 per month paid by new subscribers.

Correction: fuboTV pricing is $54.99 not $44.99, as written in a prior version of this story.