I often mention my First Rule of TV Programming: Every channel, no matter what its original topic or theme, becomes like every other channel. SyFy adds pro wrestling. MTV turns away from music. GSN picks up reality shows. Et cetera. If the Chess Channel launched today, two years later it would carry sitcoms. (The only exception to this rule is Turner Classic Movies. Please don’t ever change, TCM.)
It looks like I’ll need to add a corollary to that rule: Every over-the-top multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) will become like every other MVPD. First KlowdTV started with a quirky set of channels then morphed under new management to embrace conservative news networks. Now fuboTV has announced that its soccer-centric offerings, starting at $10/month, will give way to a broad set of national channels that will cost over three times as much.
As it exists in 2016, fuboTV makes a great OTT supplement to free broadcast TV for soccer fans, even moreso for Spanish-language soccer fans. (Quick disclaimer: fuboTV advertises on FreeTVBlog and its sister web sites, but I pay for my own subscription.) The current base package includes beIN Sports, One World Sports, Univision Desportes and a half dozen interesting channels for that $9.95 base price. Gol TV and TyC Sports are part of a $4 add-on package. I can’t imagine a better solution for the soccer fan on a budget.
Yesterday, fuboTV announced that it will offer over 30 general interest channels plus plenty of sports for an introductory price of $34.95/month. That will go up to $50/month “in about 12 months” according to an article in Multichannel News. There’s still an emphasis on sports, but it’s hard to tell how it’s much different from DirecTV Now except for fewer channels and a lot less marketing clout. The 2017 fuboTV is also a close match to Sling TV Blue plus Sports Extra, a combination that’s also $35/month, again without the visibility of a top-five MVPD.
David Gandler, fuboTV’s CEO and co-founder, told Multichannel News that his current audience is 55% Hispanic, and that his new service will find a different audience than his cable-substitute OTT competitors. “There will be a learning curve over the next 24 to 36 months as we get a sense of who are customers are,” Gandler said.
According to that article, “fuboTV plans to sunset its current $9.99 per month service and incent current subscribers in the coming weeks and months to sign up for the new, fuller version of fuboTV.” I reached out for clarification, and was told via email that “All legacy plans will remain. However, you will not be able to sign up for a new one once the new product launches.”
The take-home message here is that if fuboTV sounds at all interesting to you, now is the time to subscribe to the basic service while it’s still around. You can watch on your phone, your tablet, and most TV streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV. There’s no contract or long-term commitment, and there’s a 24-hour free trial. fuboTV includes a cloud-based DVR for time-shifting live matches from other lands or any other show you want to watch later. If we subscribers are going to get incentives to upgrade next year, that might be worth something too. I’m not being too selfish when I suggest that you really should check it out!