Fubo Sports Network Kicking Up its Live Sports Offerings
Lights Out Xtreme Fighting MMA Card latest of live sports events appearing on free digital sports channel
Fubo Sports Network is ramping up its live sports offerings this Saturday with coverage of the LXF 6 Lights Out Xtreme Fighting mixed martial arts event, part of several live sports events the network is offering its growing base of viewers.
Traditionally known for unscripted sport-themed content, the two year-old network -- part of FuboTV's streaming platform and available to 75 million devices through such platforms as Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Vizio Channels and XUMO -- has in the past year offered live Conmebol South American World Cup 2022 Qualifying matches as well as live games from Spain’s premier pro basketball league, Liga Endesa along with LXF MMA fights.
To complement its live sports telecasts, the network and FuboTV this past September launched free-to-play predictive gaming offerings. For this Saturday’s LXF 6 event, the network will allow viewers to engage in free-to-play trivia games to earn points toward a $1,000 prize. Viewers can access the games -- which will appear on the same screen with the event’s live feed -- via remote control without having to open another app, according to the network.
The live events join the network’s lineup of unscripted, sports-themed series including No Chill with Gilbert Arenas, starring the former NBA all-star basketball player; Getcha Popcorn Ready with T.O. and Hatch, featuring former NFL wide receivers Terrell Owens and Matthew Hatchett; soccer-themed sports talk show The Cooligans; and Drinks with Blinks, hosted by sports broadcaster Julie Stewart-Binks.
Fubo Sports Network head Pamela Duckworth recently spoke to Multichannel News regarding the network’s live sports acquisition strategy as well as the network’s continued focus on athlete-themed original series. An edited version of the interview appears below.
Multichannel News: How important has the addition of live sports programming been to the evolution of Fubo Sports Network?
Pamela Duckworth: I think it puts us in the game. With our deal with Conmebol, which is a South American World Cup qualifier event, we were able to air some of the games for free on our network. We also did some original shoulder programming around every weekend that we aired the live games in both English and Spanish, and that’s been super successful. We’ve also added Lights Out Xtreme Fighting events, of which we have one this weekend, so it’s been a pretty exciting time for the network.
MCN: Has the addition of live sports programming helped attract a younger audience to Fubo Sports Network?
PD: Yes, particularly the mixed martial arts events. We’ve done some really fun things with it on the digital side. For instance, we’re going to have a social media person at [Saturday's] live event providing some behind the scenes footage, which will go out to viewers at the same time that we’re doing the live show. We think that will help bring in some new, younger viewers as well.
MCN: Overall, how do you see the live TV sports landscape shaping up over the next couple of years?
PD: Just looking at the landscape you’re seeing non-traditional players getting into the field and snatching up a lot of the live sports event rights. We know that live sports is the number one draw for viewers on television … it’s everything that you would want on your network. So we’re out there just like everyone else trying to find any sports that could work on our network.
MCN: Along with live programming, you’ve also added some interactive features to the service. How has that helped serve the network from a viewership and advertiser perspective?
PD: Our free-to-play integrated games do increase the time viewers remain with the platform. I don’t know about you but I love playing trivia, so if viewers are being served up trivia and other games while they’re watching the live event, they’re obviously going to be more engaged. As for advertisers, we’ve had [Anheuser-Busch's] Michelob Ultra as part of our games and we’re actively looking to get other advertisers to be a part of the games. That can only grow exponentially.
MCN: What will Fubo Sports Network look like in 2022?
PD: We’re going to draft off of our successes, which includes our originals. I think it's great to give these athletes a platform where they can showcase the other side of themselves, so I want to grow in that area along with obviously the live sports area.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.