Sports-focused vMVPD is first to head overseas with Spain launch

WHY THIS MATTERS: With its launch in Spain, fuboTV is the first U.S.-based virtual pay TV provider to enter an overseas market.

As its virtual MVPD competitors begin to recalibrate their business models in an overheated domestic market, fuboTV has become the first of the sector’s players to expand internationally.

The startup streaming pay TV service said that fuboTV España will offer subscribers 13 Spanish-language channels, including Moviestar Series, which broadcasts programming from CBS, NBC, The CW, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime and Starz.

“We’re seeing strong traction in terms of product usage over the last three or four months, and that gives us the comfort level to consider international markets,” David Gandler, co-founder and CEO of fuboTV, said in an interview with B&C.

“And the economics internationally are going to be more favorable,” he added. “The pay TV space [in Spain] is not as mature as it is in the U.S.”

Through fuboTV’s ongoing marketing relationship with soccer league La Liga, the OTT service already has brand awareness in Spain, Gandler said, though fuboTV España is not launching with any soccer channels on the menu.

Gandler didn’t disclose the size of fuboTV’s launch team in Europe. He said a small number of operatives were brought in from Spain, trained, and redeployed to the region to launch the service. “It remains a very U.S.-centric operation,” he said. “It’s very lean.”

FuboTV recently announced a $75 million funding round, bringing the New York-based company’s total funding to around $150 million since its launch in 2014. The company also recently announced a $100 million annual run rate and said it has surpassed 250,000 subscribers. It’s also touting upticks in usage — on average, it said, users watch five and a half hours of video a day on its platform.

The startup is competing in a vMVPD business that includes AT&T (DirecTV Now), Google (YouTube TV) and Sony (PlayStation Vue), just to name the big companies occupying what has suddenly become a fiercely competitive, low-margin business in the U.S.

For example, while AT&T certainly had a leg up in launching DirecTV Now in the U.S. two years ago, with nearly 100 million wireless customers already in the market, it would have to start from scratch, just like fuboTV is doing, to infiltrate a market like Spain. That’s an endeavor that’s far less tedious for a privately backed startup than it would be a public company like AT&T, which would have to show the growing pains to its investors every three months.

Being a startup, Gandler noted, is an advantage versus larger corporate behemoths.

“Because we’re an internet company, and we built our platform very specifically for the OTT space, it’s extremely scalable,” Gandler said. “For us, the Holy Grail is to become the largest vMVPD in the world.”

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