Last year, Rupert Murdoch sold most of 21st Century Fox to Disney for $71bn, saying that the company lacked the scale to compete with Netflix, Prime et al. But now his $13bn Fox Corp (comprising Fox News, Fox Sports Fox News, Fox Entertainment, and the Fox Television Stations in the US) is getting into streaming with the acquisition of the San Francisco-based Tubi. The $490m deal ($440m cash with $50m contingent over three years) has been essentially funded by Fox’s $350m sale of its 5% stake in Roku.
Tubi is a free, advertising-funded platform with over 56,000 hours of movies and episodic programmes (from producers including Warner, Paramount and Lions Gate). It was established in 2014 and had 25m users in December 2019 who watched over 160m hours of programming. It claims to reach a young demographic. The service, whose ads are unskippable, is available in Canada and Australia, as well as the US.
In view of the intensifying competition for subscription streaming services, not least with Disney, it is interesting that media companies have been acquiring ad-supported streaming services. Last year Viacom (now part of ViacomCBS) bought Pluto TV for $340m. This year, Comcast acquired Xumo, and its NBCUniversal is reported to be negotiating the acquisition of Vudu, owned by retailer Walmart.