By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, do you think Fubo TV will ever bring back the Turner channels like TNT? I want to watch the NBA and NHL playoffs and I can’t. What do you think? Don’t they get how important this is?! — Maurice, Springfield, Illinois.
Maurice, Fubo in March unveiled a new advertising campaign around the theme, ‘If Sports Fans Built a Streaming Service,’ suggesting it has the most sports channels in the category.
But Fubo will not carry roughly 100 NBA and NHL playoff games this year because it lost the three Turner-owned networks (TNT, TBS and truTV) in a carriage dispute three years ago. (TBS and TNT have the national broadcast rights to those playoff games.) That’s a big omission for a service that says it’s ‘sports-first.’
The streamer did add the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks in March, but was that the right move? Would Fubo have been wiser to use its programming money on Turner instead of Bally?
Well, Fubo just released its 2023 first quarter report and it showed that it lost a net of 160,000 North American subscribers compared to its sub total at the end of the fourth quarter of 2022. (It had 1,445 million at the end of 2022 and 1.285 million at the end of the 2023 first quarter.)
By comparison, it lost only 74,000 net subs in the first quarter of 2022 compared to its sub total at the end of 2021. (It had 1.13 million at the end of 2021 and 1.056 million at the end of the 2022 first quarter.)
You might say that the NBA and NHL playoffs weren’t a factor in the first quarter, but March Madness was. The Turner channels broadcast the majority of college basketball’s annual men’s tournament, but they were not on Fubo.
It’s hard to market yourself as a sports-first service and then not carry a large part of one of the most important sporting events of the year. No wonder Fubo’s subs declined in March and throughout the first quarter.
Fans of teams carried by Bally Sports certainly are happy that Fubo has them in its lineup. But there are far more sports fans who would be happier if Turner would show up in Fubo’s lineup before the playoffs end or, at least, before next season’s NBA and NHL seasons.
Maurice, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann