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Fubo Launches Fubo Radio, a FAST Channel Radio Experience Powered by Super Hi-Fi

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Sports-first live TV streaming platform FuboTV, has partnered with the premier provider of AI-powered radio services for broadcast and digital media platforms, Super Hi-Fi, to create Fubo Radio.

With a recent Hub Entertainment report showing that 49% of all television viewers also use their TVs to stream music, now is an optimal time for OTT FAST services to expand into exclusive music channel offerings.

Fubo describes their new service as “the first radio experience created from the ground-up for an OTT service, with a TV-first interface and incredible music programming designed specifically for Fubo’s audience.”

“Fubo customers ‘Come for the Sports and Stay for the Entertainment,’ which is why bolstering our sports-first content offering with entertainment is always a priority,” said David Gandler, co-founder and CEO of Fubo. “The addition of FAST channel radio stations, Fubo Radio, to our programming lineup diversifies our entertainment choices and redefines what it means to be a cable TV replacement for the entire family.”

The Fubo Radio FAST channels are available in Fubo’s base channel plan, Fubo Pro. They include stations such as “Hits Radio,” “Hip-Hop One,” “Top Country,” “Classic Rock,” and “Éxitos Latinos.”

Industry experts agree that the stage has already been well set for FAST channels to enter the streaming radio market. Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, Producers Guild of America (PGA), VR AR Association (VRARA), said, “The podcast space has discovered FAST in 2023 - see PodcastOne TV's launch as proof - and there is every reason to believe that a radio experience will succeed in FAST. Most video podcasts/vodcasts are listened to, not viewed, by audiences that are engaged with multiple devices simultaneously. So, Fubo Radio is a brilliant way to extend the value of FAST channels to new content streams. As long as the content and the programming are on-brand, why shouldn't it succeed? As the SVOD players have moved to ad-supported streaming to increase revenues, the FAST world needs to offer content that connects with the consumption behaviors of audiences. FAST is competing more with, say, Twitch and TikTok than with other OTT outlets. The younger demo will go for something that is ‘new’ if it's offered up in the right way. What radio becomes, in the FAST world, might reinvent the entire industry.”

However, Jonathon Barbato, Co-CEO Best Ever Channels, noted, “While this is an innovation in OTT, it's not completely unprecedented in that both VEVO and Stingray have done music channels in OTT...just not 'radio' channels (they have video, visuals, concerts, etc.). And it's not unprecedented in television, as cable and satellite have had ‘radio’ or audio channels for years. So my opinion is that at first glance, they are not exactly breaking new ground, but the proof will be in the product. Because they cater to a niche audience, the curation of their ‘radio’ channel may indeed be innovative. Will it compete with Sirius XM? Maybe, but I'm not sure television competes with radio in the sense that the use of different devices doesn't usually occur in the same instance, [such as] radio in the car. We'll see.”

Barbato said that the success of Fubo Radio rests on how strongly it captures a significant audience. If so, he said, “Then others will follow, the platforms will make room for it, and the providers will line up to be the next to supply content (that's what happened in cable). The FAST space is already over-crowded, and platforms are slow to approve new video channels, so maybe radio is the next 'way in' to claiming FAST platform real estate.”

Pfaff agreed that capturing a substantial audience will be the primary requirement for success with FAST radio. “The biggest challenge is audience; that's the biggest challenge for FAST, in general,” he said. “Who's watching/listening? What data/demographics can you ascribe to that audience, and how does that translate into ad dollars? The CPMs are low for FAST, but that doesn't mean that the right advertiser can't find success with the right FAST radio channel, or the right show. The value of a pop-up radio channel on FAST might create a surprise hit or lead to a new programming deal with talent that could not be found anywhere else. Leveraging the airwaves, if you will, to discover new talent, or to complement an existing brand's portfolio is just good common creative sense.”

Ultimately, there may be some key advertising advantages for radio built specifically for OTT services compared to satellite radio services such as SiriusXM and music streamers such as Spotify and Apple Music. Pfaff said, “The CTV world has lived with streaming audio via cable or satellite (DirecTV's Music Choice channels have been around for 27 years), so FAST channels with radio content should not be a surprise. Ad pods are being inserted into podcasts on Pandora, for example, which is owned by SiriusXM, so we can easily see how radio - in a FAST environment - could succeed for listeners/viewers who do not subscribe to a streaming audio/music service.”

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