FuboTV Says COVID-19 Impact Will Be "Significant"

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The sports streaming service warns the sudden vanishing of live matches on its TV schedule will hit subscriber or advertising revenues this year.

FuboTV, a streaming service offering a bundle of sports TV channels, on Monday warned the COVID-19 pandemic will hit its full-year 2020 financial results.

"Although we continue to offer our services, without live sports, there is no assurance we will continue to maintain our subscriber base or continue to receive advertising dollars," the streamer said in a shareholders letter from CEO David Gandler that revealed preliminary financial results for fiscal 2019.

FuboTV, which recently merged with tech player Facebank Group and installed Edgar Bronfman Jr. as executive chairman, said it ended 2019 with 316,000 paid subscribers, against a year-earlier 229,000. And full year 2019 revenue rose 96 percent to $146.5 million, driven by FuboTV’s expanded paid subscriber base, ad sales and user engagement, the company reported.

FuboTV, while not disclosing first-quarter 2020 subscriber data, did offer unaudited estimates for the three months to March 31, 2020, a period that included from mid-March the loss of live sports programming to the streamer as the coronavirus pandemic spread and pro leagues shut down.

"We continue to assess the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on our business and results of operations, including on our first and second quarters and full-year 2020 results, but we anticipate that the impact will be significant," Gandler told investors.

The exec added the eventual impact of the pandemic on his business will depend on the "duration and spread of COVID-19, the impact on local and global economies, changes in subscriber demand for our services or advertising spend on our platform ... as well as restrictions on the activities of leagues and communities around the world."

Gandler isn't alone in fearing pro sports leagues put on hold will impact subscriber and advertising revenues. Global broadcasters are eyeing big subscription losses and ad revenue drops as pro leagues like the NBA and Major League Baseball, and the 2020 Summer Olympics, delay, postpone or cancel tournaments or seasons outright.

FuboTV offers content via U.S. distribution deals with TV channels that hold rights to major sporting events, including live soccer matches from more than half of the top international leagues and tournaments. Content partners include Univision, beIN Sports and GolTV.