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Week In Review: FAST Times At TV High: Tubi Tops 20 Million Viewers, FuboTV Launches Sports FAST


1. Tubi Tops 20 Million Viewers

Tubi, the FAST (Free Ad Supported Steaming TV Service) that Viacom didn’t buy, now has over 20 million monthly active viewers. Now that number should be taken with a rock-sized grain of salt, given that it’s entirely self-reported and it’s unclear what they think actually makes someone a “monthly active user” but if it’s even halfway close, it’s still an impressive number.

Why It Matters

The other FASTs are growing in leaps and bounds too. Pluto (the one Viacom did buy) has 16 million monthly active users, and Xumo has 5.5 million.  Roku is still pushing the Roku Channel to all 29 million Roku OS users and Amazon is, well no one is really sure WTF Amazon is doing. Other than changing the name of their app-that-nobody-knew-existed from “FreeDive” to “IMDb TV” that is.

Because a six-letter acronym is super easy to remember?

Amazon’s foibles aside, the FASTS have, as we’ve noted previously, made some very smart moves, getting themselves embedded in various and sundry smart TVs and otherwise being ubiquitous.

Their success also proves that there’s a huge appetite for the sort of “comfort food TV” they’re selling (or not selling, as the ad-supported case may be.)

Which makes a world of sense: people watch a lot of TV (look the the Nielsen reports sometime—it’s way more than you’d think—4 hours and 13 minutes a day on “Live + Time-Shifted TV” and 47 minutes a day on “TV Connected Devices” Who has that much free time?)

Point being however, most people are not going to spend all that time watching Quality Original Dramas or Cutting Edge Comedies. Sometimes you just want to kick back with something less high-engagement.

Now Netflix, Amazon and (especially) Hulu have those sort of low engagement shows. In spades. But if I had to guess, viewers feel guilty watching them on those platforms instead of the higher profile originals and/or reruns. Or maybe those platforms are only surfacing their more popular shows and more recent movies on the top level recommendations, and so viewers are unaware they have other options.

It will be interesting to see some research on who the FASTS viewers are and why they’re watching: are they people who only have one SVOD subscription? No SVOD subscriptions? No desire to have to wade through the massive libraries services like Hulu and Netflix carry?

I have a feeling we’ll find out soon enough. (And no, we’re not doing another special report on that.)

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an advertiser, the FASTS are a great way to get incremental reach, e.g., all those people you are not reaching via linear TV. They’re also still something of a bargain right now.

If you’re a hybrid SVOD/AVOD service (e.g., one of the Flixes), remember that the FASTS are not your competitors, they’re complementary, as viewers seem to be using them in very different ways.

If you’re an ad network, you might want to take a page from the Viacom playbook and buy one. It’s a great way to round out your ad portfolio and deliver the incremental reach from within your own set of inventory.

2. FuboTV Launches Sports FAST

Fubo, the sports-oriented vMVPD (they have more deals with more RSNs—regional sports networks—than any other vMVPD) is going to launch it’s own sports-oriented FAST.

Called the Fubo Sports Network, it will have original programming and about five to six minutes of advertising per hour. More important, it will be available outside of the Fubo vMVPD, via Channel Plus (Xumo’s LG-TV app) and, eventually “other sources” e.g., they are still ironing out distribution deals.

Why It Matters

Fubo’s ultimate plan is to be the Cheddar of Sports and it seems like our friend Jon Steinberg’s plan will become a business model across multiple verticals—create high-interest programming with a more millennial-focused spin around a mainstream topic and sell advertising against it. Run it on various platforms by taking a cut of ad revenue rather than charging a carriage fee and you’ve got a successful business

It also matters because FuboTV is a unique entity in vMVPD-land—an independently owned startup (they have investment from players like Disney and Sky, but they’re not wholly owned like YouTube TV or Sling—and thus the subject of many merger rumors.

Having a successful sports app that also lives off the platform where it can help expand the reach of Fubo’s advertising (both self-promotional and for paying clients) will only make Fubo a more attractive takeover target.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an advertiser, Fubo Sports Network will likely be a great way to reach young male sports fans. Check it out.

If you’re a young male sports fan, Fubo Sports Network might become your go-to jam, sort of a 24-hour Bleacher Report. Check it out.

If you’re thinking of buying FuboTV (Apple?) then this is likely going to make them an even better deal for you. Check it out.