It’s frustrating to be a sports fan these days. Teams, leagues and networks are all launching their own subscription plans. It’s hard to find your favorite games unless you subscribe to a luxury suite of services.
FuboTV is aimed at being everything to the sports fan. With an aggregated lineup of streaming services from leagues, teams and sports networks (and a side dish of your usual news and entertainment networks), FuboTV positions itself as an essential component of a fans’ streaming diet. When CEO and co-founder David Gandler thinks What the Future, he’s looking at ways to make being a fan more fun and engaging through interactivity, betting and more.
Matt Carmichael: What does the sports streaming landscape look like in five years?
David Gandler: You’ll have a lot of experimentation on the direct-to-consumer side. I could see leagues doing more direct-to-consumer. Distribution is key for sports because it’s so expensive. So I don’t foresee a situation where you have smaller services that are holding onto exclusive rights. And when I say smaller services, I would include ESPN+ in that.
Carmichael: How will the fan experience change in terms of how people consume sports and interact with sports content?
Gandler: We believe that there’s going to be more interactivity around sports, almost Fortnite-ish, if you will, where younger people are getting used to playing these types of games and being able to control and buy digital goods and use digital coins and interact in a whole new way. I believe that you’ll see some augmented reality, as well, that will start to become part of these types of viewing experiences. So people can really talk about their favorite teams and their favorite players.
Carmichael: Do you see esports coverage being something that gains a little traction?
Gandler: I thought—and this is where I was wrong—that the window for esports was during COVID. We didn’t really see that take place. Young people are used to watching a lot of esports clips on YouTube and Twitch, and they don’t necessarily have to be live. We haven’t seen from our data that esports was able to gain traction at a time when one would expect it to gain traction with the lack of availability of sports programming on TV. I’m not super bullish on esports.
Carmichael: How do you view gambling in terms of its role in fan engagement?
Gandler: I look at gambling companies. Their job is to maximize revenue opportunities. That includes targeting whales and having VIP services and hotlines. That’s not the goal here with FuboTV. It’s about gamifying the experience and turning passive viewers into active participants. That will create a flywheel for us, where improved engagement means better attention. Better attention means that people are visiting the platform more often and watching more sports, which leads to obviously more advertising time, which leads to better monetization and our ability to acquire more and more content.
Carmichael: What sort of possibilities do you foresee?
Gandler: When you have a large video base that is spending dozens and dozens of hours watching sports every month, it allows us to create discrete betting markets. If you like to bet on strikeouts, we might be able to send you information saying, “Hey, there are four other games on with two strikes. Do you want to switch channels?” and as you switch channels the bet slip comes up.
Carmichael: With the proliferation of streaming networks and teams and leagues starting their own services, it’s hard, as a fan, to find the games you want to watch without multiple services.
Gandler: I’ve said we’re going from a world of bundling to unbundling to ultimately rebundling. In the next year or two, I think the level of viewer frustrations will continue to increase. Pricing will also increase, as the cost of entertainment and sports are becoming more expensive. And it’s becoming much harder for shows to surface through the clutter, which is where aggregation comes in.
There’s a forcing function here, too. Wall Street will only accept losses [from streaming services] for so long. And if these streaming services continue to show high levels of churn, they’re going to have to offset that with selling content to bundlers. I think naturally you’ll see that happen over the next 36 months.
Carmichael: Do aggregation and platforms like this give us an opportunity to start to address some of the fandom gap with women’s sports and some lesser-known sports leagues?
Gandler: The good news about streaming is that we don’t have any limitations, right? To some degree, streaming will be able to solve this problem. It will surface that content in a much cleaner way. So if anyone’s looking for baseball, they’ll get softball as well.
Carmichael: FuboTV is investing in its own content, starting with soccer coverage in both English and Spanish. Is this to develop more diverse and younger audiences?
Gandler: Absolutely. We want to create a platform that engages younger audiences and delivers the type of content that they want to watch. Soccer is important internationally and it’s becoming a much larger sport in the United States.