Fox plans to invest in Tubi, its entry in the fast-growing over-the-top connected TV market, and those investments include original programming.
While most media companies are investing billions in original scripted content for their subscription streaming services, Fox bought ad-supported Tubi last year for $440 million and Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch has predicted that it will be a billion-dollar business in a few years.
Last week, Fox CFO Steve Tomsic, speaking at Deutsche Bank’s Media, Internet & Telecom Conference said that putting Fox hits like The Masked Singer have given Tubi a boost, the company is looking to put original programming on Tubi. He was quick to emphasize that he wasn’t talking about big-ticket scripted programming (although Wall Street is growing more comfortable with the notion of spending big on programming, so long as it boosts subscriber totals).
“Over time, as we look at genres that really work on Tubi, we will cost-effectively look at sort of originals, but I stress that it’s going to be cost effective,” Tomsic said.
Tubi has had success with some of the cost-effective titles it has licensed, Tomsic said.
Most ad supported streaming services have featured off-network and library content, but competition might be changing that. NBCU’s Peacock has originals including a new version of Saved by the Bell. And AT&T’s HBO Max and ViacomCBS’s Paramount Plus are close to launching ad supported versions of their streaming services, which would give consumers lower-priced access to original programming.
Roku’s ad-supported The Roku Channel on March 19 launches Cypher, a scripted dramatic it will be airing exclusively in the U.S., a move that could signal a desire to program more exclusive and original shows.
Fox’s Tomsic also said that some sports programming could find its way to Tubi, which is primarily being promoted as a free service.
“I can see a world where you would experiment with sports to drive sampling of Tubi and drive the brand of Tubi, and maybe some of the second- and third-tier sports could find a home if the economics worked with Tubi to drive that,” he said. “But I think it’s a reasonable distance away before you’d see sort of the core home of any of our major sports on Tubi.”
Last week, The Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN made a deal with the National Hockey League that puts live games on its streaming platforms including ESPN Plus and Hulu.
Tomsic said Fox expects Tubi to generate $300 million of ad revenue this fiscal year. Tubi will be a part of Fox’s upfront presentation this year.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.