Streaming service fuboTV has never had any of ESPN’s networks on its lineup. This is notable for a couple of reasons. First off, fubo has never had any of the ESPN/Disney networks on its service. Second, fubo dubbed itself as a sports-centric streaming provider, meaning the lack of ESPN was a dealbreaker for many sports fans, most notably those who like college football, college basketball, or the NBA.
Nearly two years ago, fuboTV CEO David Gandler admitted the lack of ESPN was a big missing piece in fubo’s lineup, but “when it makes sense for both sides, that deal will come to fruition.” Apparently, it now makes sense for both sides, because Variety reported on Wednesday that the whole damn suite of ESPN and Disney networks would be added to fuboTV’s lineup this summer – and on its standard package, too.
Beginning this summer, customers who subscribe to FuboTV’s Standard base package will have access to ESPN, as well as ESPN2, ESPN3, and a range of other Disney-owned networks including ABC, ABC News Live, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, in-market for SEC Network and ACC Network, FX, FXX and National Geographic.
Under the pact between Disney Media Networks and FaceBank Group (FuboTV’s parent company), additional networks will also be available on FuboTV’s other packages including out-of-market for SEC Network and ACC Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes, FXM, Fox Life, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo, and BabyTV. The deal includes both live television feeds and VOD.
The elephant in the room is the potential price hike that comes along with adding all of these networks. Bundling all of them together will cause fubo to pay a significant amount in carriage fees – $16, per an estimate last fall. Interestingly, this was given as a reason for fubo dropping FX, FXX, and NatGeo – they were now under the Disney umbrella, and if fubo wanted to keep those networks, they would have to add the entire Disney suite.
Now that all these networks are being added to fubo’s packages, you’d expect an eventual price hike of at least $15 – either $69.99 or $74.99 per month both seem like probable options. However, fubo did not immediately announce a price hike in the wake of the addition of all the Disney networks.
fubo is now looking like even more of a streaming option for sports fans, even though it dropped the Sinclair-owned Fox RSNs in January at the same time it dropped FX, FXX, and NatGeo. Back in January, we didn’t include fubo in our breakdown of streaming services for sports fans, but it does tick most of the boxes that sports fans are looking for (including NFL Network in the standard package, and NFL RedZone in a sports package for an additional $10.99/month).
This isn’t a risk-free move from fubo. They’ll need to continue to siphon customers away from their competitors to make the addition of these networks, and the cost associated with adding them, worth it. If they’re not able to do that, it wouldn’t be a surprise if fubo eventually followed the path of PlayStation Vue, which shut down at the end of January.