Did that much anticipated moment, when the last sports programming linchpin holding what’s left of the pay TV bundle together finally gives way, just happen?
After a fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call in which it mentioned its $440 million streaming acquisition, Tubi, no less than 58 times, while promising that the platform will soon generate $1 billion in annual ad revenue, Fox went all in on the AVOD service -- well, almost -- committing to the launch of 10 live-streamed sports channels.
These channels will be full of studio shows and highlights. For now.
The new, free-to-consumer “Sports on Tubi” platform will involve Fox’s biggest sports licensing deals, including the NFL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR, as well as some of its biggest linear network brands, notably Fox Sports.
In all, there will be 10 branded sports channels, including channels branded around the Pac 12 and ACC collegiate sports conferences, Spanish-language offerings including Fox Sports en Español and beIN Sports, as well as third-party offerings including USA Today SportsWire and Fubo Sports Network.
Fox is also promising content from the Big Ten, pro bowling and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Sports on Tubi will also draw funds from some of Fox’s biggest advertising clients, with Applebee’s and Uber Eats listed as key launch sponsors.
The Sports on Tubi platform will exist outside the mother Tubi ship, a separate AVOD service (at least for now) supported by only the biggest connected TV platforms, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Android.
Fox said more Sports on Tubi platform support will arrive soon, as will more channels. And we can probably expect more live sports, too.
Touting 700 hours of on-demand content at launch Wednesday, Fox is billing the Sports on Tubi as a platform for highlights, classic games and studio shows. There’s no NFC regular season pro football games on here, or MLB mid-September pennant deciders. Yet.
That could change fast.
While linear networks like FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes, Big Ten Network and the Fox Sports Networks regional channels continue to bleed linear pay TV customers, with pay TV operators losing another 1.3 million customers from April to June, Tubi has surpassed 40 million active users, with Fox 900 million viewing hours spent on the platform from April through June, an uptick of 40%.
Full fiscal year Tubi revenue reached $400 million, up 170% year over year.
“We are in a very different space. It's a space focused on advertisers, and advertisers are increasingly seeking out Tubi as a leading platform to reach a younger audience that is both largely unduplicated from our traditional Fox audience and not regularly streaming other AVOD services,” Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch told investors earlier this month.
You didn’t think Fox would be content with merely exposing The Masked Singer to the vagaries of the streaming wars, did you?
Here's the list of Sports on Tubi channels at launch. Channel descriptions are provided by Fox.
> FOX Sports: FOX Sports is the #1 live event sports brand in the industry. Watch highlights, daily studio content and original programming here!
> FOX Sports en Español: From FOX Deportes, the first Spanish-language sports network in the U.S., FOX Sports en Español features daily studio content, highlights and condensed games from Liga MX, PBC, MLS and much more.
> NFL Channel: A specially curated channel for NFL fans that includes in-season, near-to-live digital content, NFL-themed tentpoles and highlights and replays of some of the most memorable matchups in NFL history, as well as other compelling library content, including past seasons of the Emmy Award-winning series “Hard Knocks.”
> MLB: MLB on Tubi features classic baseball games, highlights and shows, including historic World Series, All-Star Games, “MLB FastCast” daily show and milestone events from the national pastime.
> beIN Sports XTRA and beIN SportsXTRA en Español: Free 24/7 LIVE sports, news, analysis and highlights channels, including live matches from Ligue 1, Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and SüperLig, as well as the women’s racing championship, W Series, among others.
> Pac-12 Insider: Pac-12 Insider is your home for free sports from the Conference of Champions! Watch up to 100 live events, classic games and behind-the-scenes stories that showcase the heart and soul of Pac-12 student-athletes, coaches and legends.
> Stadium: Stadium is the original multi-platform sports network, featuring exclusive live and on-demand games, original programming and daily studio shows.
> USA TODAY SportsWire: Sports fanatics who hate to miss a game should look no further than USA TODAY SportsWire, which breaks down the most noteworthy plays and trending news in sports.
> Fubo Sports Network: Fubo Sports Network is the live TV network featuring sports stories on and off the field. Watch live games, original shows, your favorite sports movies and more. All free.
> ACC Digital Network: Coming soon to Tubi, the ACC Digital Network (ACCDN) is the official home for all the best highlights, game re-airs, originals, condensed games and daily coverage of the ACC.
> Real Madrid TV: Coming soon to Tubi is a free digital television channel, Real Madrid TV, dedicated to one of the most recognized brands in world sport. The channel will provide viewers one-of-a-kind access to matches, showing 2-3 matches per week during the season of Real Madrid’s La Liga games, as well as their UEFA Champions League and Cup tournaments. In addition, the channel will air classic programing, exclusive club insight, breaking news and more.
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.
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