FuboTV, one of the many players in the now-crowded live TV streaming subscription space, is reportedly going to add a free, ad-supported streaming option to its existing paid subscription business, according to TechCrunch and an interview given to The Wrap, by FuboTV CEO and co-founder, David Gandler.
Digital Trends asked FuboTV to confirm the report and a company spokesperson responded that, “FuboTV believes in the future of pay TV and we are looking at launching an ad-supported channel, not a platform.”
Expected to launch sometime in 2019, possibly as late as the October to December window, little is known about how FuboTV plans to run the channel, or exactly what content will be available on it. FuboTV has traditionally been a sports-centered service, appealing to those looking to amp up their sports diet while cutting the cord from their satellite or cable provider. In recent months, the company has dramatically expanded its non-sports offerings, including a slew of channels from Viacom, such as BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Paramount Network, TV Land, and VH1. However, with expansions comes greater expenses, and in March 2018, FuboTV increased its base price by $10 per month, to $55. That’s $5 more per month than DirecTV Now’s Plus package, which also includes HBO, and ESPN, two major channels that FuboTV lacks.
A free, ad-supported channel would give FuboTV access to a much larger audience — assuming its programming is compelling — and an easy way to promote its paid subscription as a desirable upgrade for those who haven’t taken the plunge yet. It remains to be seen whether or not Apple will let FuboTV include its free channel within the Apple TV app — FuboTV recently joined Playstation Vue and DirecTV Now as one of the three live TV streaming services supported by Apple’s video platform.
The free, ad-supported model is starting to make inroads into the live TV streaming market. Viacom recently purchased PlutoTV, a free streaming service that will now offer a selection of Viacom’s shows. YouTube recently announced that it would be making all of its Originals free to stream as an ad-supported product, and even though it denies it, it’s highly likely that Amazon is eyeing a similar move. Walmart-owned Vudu has had a free movie option since 2016.
There is also plenty of appetite for the free ad-supported model among music streaming services, too. Amazon and Google both launched free tiers of their music services, specifically for users of their smart speakers, a move which gives listeners a new option beyond Spotify’s own free streaming option.
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