Thursday is an important day for fuboTV (NYSE:FUBO). The sports-heavy live-TV streaming service is taking out of beta some interesting platform features that should boost engagement and revenue.
Coinciding with the start of the September window of the South American Qatar World Cup 2022 qualifying matches (aka Conmebol), all fuboTV subscribers will be able to incorporate live stats and free-to-play games as part of the viewing experience. Viewers can use FanView, available on most of the popular streaming devices, to track real-time stats and scores as well as compete for cash prizes in free predictive games.
The new options, which subscribers can toggle on or off add these features on the same viewing screen alongside a slightly reduced-size video player, controlled via the TV remote or in some cases by integrated smartphone apps. It's a whole new way to get into the game, and it could give fuboTV a leg up over the more-vanilla livestreaming services.
It's a kick
Sports fans generally relish stats and are competitive by nature, so the appeal of FanView stats or the chance to win prizes by guessing something along the lines of which player will score a goal next are fairly obvious. It's also worth noting that something doesn't come out of beta unless it was in beta testing in the first place, and on that front, the news is really encouraging.
fuboTV let subscribers kick the tires of the new features during the June window of the Conmebol games. The beta test resulted in an up to 37% increase in minutes watched on fuboTV.
Time spent in front of fuboTV matters. Naturally, livestreaming services depend on actual premiums paid by subscribers to rake in the lion's share of their revenue. fuboTV -- along with larger rivals including Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Hulu+ Live TV and Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube TV -- generally start at about $65 a month for access to roughly the same channels cable and satellite TV viewers are letting go on archaic linear TV platforms.
Unlike the more widely known streaming services that command monthly ransoms in the single digits to low teens, livestreaming services can feast on a much smaller audience paying a lot more for access. fuboTV had just 681,721 accounts at the end of June, but its average revenue per user (ARPU) has soared 30% over the past year to clock in at $71.43 a month.
A growing part of that mix is its ad revenue. Time spent on fuboTV gives the company time to push more sponsored missives to its rapidly growing viewer base, and marketers crave the demographics of the typical sports fan.
fuboTV is growing fast. It has seen its subscriber base increase by 138% over the past year, but revenue soared 196% in its latest quarter when you stack the 30% gain in ARPU on the shoulders of its account growth. Live TV services increasing their rates to cover an increase in programming costs played a part in the industry rate hikes, but one juicy factor helping fuboTV is that its advertising revenue has soared 281% over the past year. Advertising ARPU at fuboTV rose 62% to land at a record $8.70 a month, way more than even the mainstream ad-supported services.
Nothing but net
Integrated stats and predictive free-to-play contests will make fuboTV stickier for sports fans. The livestreaming services cost roughly the same because they all tend to carry roughly the same content. fuboTV's "sports first" hook is that it carries roughly three dozen sports channels among the more than 100 channels available, but turnover is high in the realm of streaming services when the linear TV equivalent of cutting the cord is just a matter of canceling one service and hopping on a rival's promotional offer.
fuboTV is helping make its own luck by making its platform unique, and Thursday's public rollout of these two features is only the beginning. fuboTV expects to roll out its own sportsbook to cash in on the real-money wagering that many of its sports fans are already making on third-party platforms. Gambling on fuboTV won't be as clean to pull off as real-time stats and free-to-play contests. It has regulatory hurdles to clear, state by state. It also will likely require a second screen, on either a mobile app or laptop, as many streaming devices don't allow direct gambling apps. But the payouts could be huge in this niche.
Today's prize-winning predictive games and FanView stats are neat, but the key here is that they are retention tools for fuboTV now and gateway drugs later to the proprietary sportsbook. The fuboTV sportsbook will have that second-screen challenge to tackle, but since it will update based on what the viewer is watching, it will be superior to what's already on the market. fuboTV is already one of the fastest growing media stocks in the investing universe. You can bet that it won't be slowing down anytime soon.