Sports-Centric Streaming Service FuboTV Buys Tech Firm in Preparation for Sports Betting Move

Posted on: December 2, 2020, 09:57h. 

Last updated on: December 3, 2020, 10:54h.

Online streaming service fuboTV wants to get into the sports betting business. On Tuesday, the company made its first move toward that goal by purchasing a startup co-founded by the son of legendary NFL quarterback Joe Montana.

fubo Balto
David Gandler, co-founder and CEO of sports-centric streaming service fuboTV, said the company has long-range plans to be involved in online sports betting. (Image: fuboTV)

Fubo announced the acquisition of Balto Sports, a company that helps people organize fantasy sports contests. In a release, fubo said it will leverage Balto’s technology, including contest automation software, to establish free-to-play games.

The streaming company touts itself as a “sports-first” provider. Of the more than 200 channels offered, more than 50 of those are sports networks. That includes the ESPN networks and Fox Sports national networks. It addition, it carries the channels for each of the four major professional sports leagues, as well as the networks for the ACC, Big Ten, Pac 12, and SEC collegiate conferences.

After establishing the free-to-play games, fubo Co-Founder and CEO David Gandler said the “natural progression” would be to offer real-money wagering opportunities on games broadcast through fubo’s live-streaming service.

As we said in our third quarter earnings announcement last month, fuboTV sees the online wagering space as complementary to our sports-first live TV streaming platform,” Gandler said. “We believe there are significant synergies between consumers who enjoy wagering and our subscribers who enjoy streaming live sports, creating a flywheel opportunity.

“…We will be strategic in our approach to wagering as we consider and evaluate different opportunities, and will adjust our plans accordingly. We’re excited to launch sports wagering, integrate it into our core offerings, and deliver what we believe will be a truly groundbreaking live TV streaming platform to consumers.”

Balto Team Brought on in Acquisition

Balto Sports has received support from seed funder Y Combinator and participated in Sportradar’s Acceleradar program. Spencer Cassidy, Joel Karacozoff, and Nick Montana founded the company in 2018.

In a February 2019 post on Y Combinator’s website, Cassidy described their venture as a technology platform to organize such contests as NFL survivor pools, NCAA March Madness brackets, and pick’em contests. Their primary focus has been on developing a user experience that enhances social interaction on mobile devices.

According to the fubo press release, Balto’s team will join the company and “be instrumental” in developing the free-to-play games. They also will help direct the company’s move towards online sports betting.

“I’m incredibly proud of the entire Balto team that worked day-in and day-out to make this dream become a reality,” Cassidy posted on LinkedIn Tuesday.

FuboTV Coming Off Best Quarter

According to fubo’s third quarter results, the streaming service now has 455,000 paid subscribers. That represents a 58 percent climb from the same period last year. In addition, the average revenue per user rose by 14 percent from the third quarter in 2019 to $67.70.

In a release last month, Gandler claimed the quarter as the company’s best ever.

As far as its sports reach, the company claims it streams at least 90 percent of the NFL games. However, most of the country is able to watch all games. It also offers 100 percent of all nationally televised NHL games, 88 percent of MLB contests, and 70 percent of NBA action. It also has a significant amount of college football and basketball games, and with CBS Sports Network, it also will feature UEFA Champions League soccer.

However, there are some gaps. Earlier this year, Turner Networks left fubo. In addition, while fubo touts it has the most extensive regional sports network availability of any streaming service, it does not carry any of the Sinclair-owned Fox Sports regional networks. That means local sports coverage may be lacking in some regions.