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Week In Review: fuboTV Get More Funding. AT&T’s Skinniest Bundle Yet

1. fuboTV Gets More Funding

The vMVPD world’s Little Engine That Could, fuboTV, just picked up another $75M in funding from the likes of AMC. That’s not nothing, especially for a vMVPD startup …that focuses on sports.

Why It Matters

fuboTV started life as a live sports aggregator that was mostly aimed at soccer fans, which at the time, meant it was heavily focused on the Latino community.

Soccer aggregator was not, in and of itself, a bad business to be in, as no one else was showing much soccer or focusing on sports—if anything, the trend has been in the other direction, to move away from sports.

Somewhere along the way however, fuboTV saw an opportunity, pivoted, and decided to become a full-on vMPVD. They struck deals with most of the major network groups and a whole lot of local affiliates. Their current offering is what we call a “mesomorph bundle” — about 80 to 100 channels price at $40-$50/month. (In the NYC area, for instance, FuboTV is offering 85 channels for $45/month, with fubo Latino, fubo Portugues and several enhanced RSN-heavy sports packages as add-ons. The basic package, however, is the only vMVPD in the NYC area that includes all three hometown RSNs in its basic bundle.)

In addition to sports bundles, fuboTV has a surprising number of unexpected stations like AMC, BBC America, Food Network and IFC. ABC/Disney, Discovery and Time Warner are the three big holes, though a recent deal with CBS may be an indication that those are within reach—on a broader basis, the various network groups are all starting to realize that it’s in their best interests to have deals with as many vMVPDs as possible and TV[R]EV’s opinion is that right now it’s mostly down to hammering out details and coming to terms, e.g., “when” rather than “if.”

They’ve also got 260 affiliates lined up (impressive for a startup) and a whopping 80% of the RSNs in the U.S.

So there’s that, and there’s the fact that, as many of you know, we’re big fans of mesomorph bundles. We think that most viewers aren’t ready to give up most of the pay TV stations they have access to, even if they never watch them. 80 channels for $45 seems like a much better deal to most people than 20 channels for $15. With 80 channels, you’re not really conscious of what, If anything, you’re giving up and so that extra $30 seems well spent, given that you’re still paying around half of what you were for the pay-TV PlatinumPlus™ package.

What You Need To Do About It

Our main fear with fuboTV—which is the same one we have about YouTube TV—is that it is not tied to any broadband provider, which leaves It vulnerable to vMVPDs tied to broadband providers who can offer low-priced double play and triple play packages. Unlike YouTube TV, however, fuboTV could be an excellent partner for an MVPD like say, oh, maybe, Verizon, who needs to buy a ready made, well regarded vMVPD.

Just a thought.

If you’re one of the networks who doesn’t have a deal with fuboTV yet, you probably want to get on the stick. With fuboTV and with all the other vMVPDs.

And if you’re down on the idea of sports on TV in general, remember that the fact that not everybody wants to pay for sports doesn’t mean that nobody wants to pay for sports. It’s still a huge market, fuboTV has been wise to capitalize on it, and if you’re an advertiser that wants to reach sports fans, they’re a very good option.

 

2. AT&T’s Skinniest Bundle Yet

During his testimony yesterday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson let this bomb slip: AT&T is planning on launching a sports-free $15/month bundle called AT&T Watch that would be free for certain AT&T wireless subscribers (likely those who subscribe to the same plan that currently gets them $15/month off AT&T’s DirecTV Now (DTVN) service. While specifics were not announced, many also assumed that Time Warner channels would be included in the bundle, hence Stephens bringing it up during the trial.)

Why It Matters

While skinny bundles have not proven to be very popular—as noted above, people seem to prefer the greater value they see in mesomorph bundles like AT&T’s own DirecTV Now (DTVN) or Hulu Live TV (which AT&T could conceivably soon own a 10% piece of)—the fact that Watch is tied to mobile coverage could make this a big win for AT&T.

It’s easy to see this service being the deciding factor for all those “cord never” millennials when choosing a mobile carrier. Because as we’ve noted many times before, it’s not that those “cord nevers” never watch pay TV (sorry Silicon Valley trade press), it’s that they’re still using mom and dad’s login. So a phone service that actually lets them watch TV from their phone or even from their laptop without asking mom why she changed the password again is going to seem a bit more appealing to them than one that doesn’t. And given that the main difference between the four major carriers these days seems to be marketing, Watch has the potential to be a major win for AT&T.

So while Watch will probably remain DTVN’s little sibling, it could significantly boost AT&T’s mobile sales, a far more lucrative business for them.

What You Need To Do About It

At this point not much to do but wait for more details to emerge

Though If you’re Verizon, you might want to think about what your response will be, as you’re the other big mobile carrier that also provides TV service. While you did put all your chips on Oath (the former AOL and Yahoo), that doesn’t seem likely to be as big a draw for the kids as a $15 pay TV package.  Especially now that 5G is coming.

Something to think about.