Sports SVOD Service FuboTV Finds Room For Ads

In its short, two-year lifespan, FuboTV, a streaming video service specializing in live sports content, has mostly monetized through paid subscriptions.

But after raising a $55 million Series C round in June – and pushing to grow subscribers for its new skinny bundle, Fubo Premier – it’s turned its attention to its tech stack.

FuboTV will use Nielsen’s data management platform (DMP) to power addressable advertising against its live sports content. The Nielsen DMP will also support custom audience segmentation and targeting against FuboTV’s subscriber list.

FuboTV decided not to turn on ads until it could monetize the live stream, said David Gandler, co-founder and CEO of FuboTV.

“Live events are really why people come to Fubo, and the live sports and news genres are what drive the majority of views,” Gandler said.

Yet, live programming adds complexities. FuboTV had to architect its tech stack to handle high volumes of users that simultaneously sign up and log in to video services for live events, which puts “massive stress” on the whole platform.

“This is not something you can buy off the shelf,” Gandler added. “It really requires you to have in-house capabilities that allow you to alleviate the latency issue that happens during big games when you have up to a few hundred thousand users tuning into one event.” 

Comcast’s FreeWheel has helped FuboTV by implementing server-side ad stitching for live streams and client-side ad stitching for VOD.

Although FreeWheel serves as FuboTV’s supply-side platform and underlying ad decisioning system, FuboTV is using Nielsen’s DMP to improve cross-platform data application and measurement.

Measurement is becoming increasingly important as FuboTV scales its programming footprint.

The Fubo Premier bundle now includes access to more than 70 channels. FuboTV’s lineup covers about 80% of regional sports networks, including Fox Sports Arizona and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, in addition to big-league content from the NFL and MLB.

Although its reach is substantial, scale is less valuable to an advertiser if it can’t be measured.

“In general, when you combine a lot of disparate [local] networks, it’s really hard to cobble together analytics to determine purchase intent or if products have overindexed for certain categories you’re looking to reach, such as telco, auto or CPG,” said Damian Garbaccio, EVP of the Nielsen Marketing Cloud.

But because Nielsen has ties to both TV ratings and shopper data via Nielsen Catalina Solutions, it claims one major upside for clients like Fubo is that its DMP is better at TV-audience indexing.

Fubo’s Gandler said that capability will help it court advertisers more effectively as it builds an ad-supported offering in a noisy OTT environment.

Although its audience base is in demand with advertisers – it is largely male, with 25% having annual household incomes greater than $200,000 – OTT buyers want the metrics they’re accustomed to with linear TV.

“There’s just less friction when you’re coming in with data that a TV buyer is familiar with and trusts,” Gandler said.

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