Fubo taps iSpot for CTV measurement

Virtual MVPD Fubo is teaming up with vendor iSpot.tv to measure connected TV ads and quantify incremental reach for advertisers on the sports-centric streaming TV service.  

Using iSpot’s cross-platform tool, FuboTV said it’s now able to quantify the number of ad impressions delivered to incremental households that aren’t reachable on linear television. iSpot also provides person-level audience estimates to account for co-viewing, or viewing happening when there’s more than one person watching in a home. The lion’s share of viewing on Fubo is done on the home’s largest screen, with 92% of content watched on connected TV. As of March 31, Fubo had 1.28 million subscribers in North America.

According to Fubo, the partnership with iSpot, which leverages a 40 million smart TV footprint across linear, is part of a larger effort to retool the vMVPD’s ad measurement arm to provide brands with attributable results and more transparency on campaign outcomes and reach.

“Accurately measuring the value of CTV advertising has remained an industry-wide challenge since audiences have migrated from linear TV to streaming,” said David Gandler, co-founder and CEO at Fubo, in a statement. “It’s paramount that we are able to verify the benefit of Fubo’s CTV inventory and differentiate our audience from that of linear TV. Together with iSpot, we are giving advertisers independent verification and greater transparency into their cross-platform campaigns, which demonstrates the tremendous value of CTV.”

As part of the partnership iSpot performed a study for three major advertisers in separate verticals which found on average, 40% of ad impressions served on Fubo reached incremental households that advertisers couldn’t access on linear TV. The vMVPD also noted that in Q1 iSpot found 17% of household TV ad impressions were delivered by live sporting events – a metric that Fubo believes bodes well for its position, as it streams over 55,000 live sporting events each year.

Increasing focus on direct ad sales

As Fubo works to up its measurement game for advertisers, the live TV streaming service last week reported Q1 North American ad sales revenue of $22.5 million, and executives  discussed an ongoing  focus and effort to build out a direct ad sales business.

 Ad sales for Fubo in Q1 were flat year over year in the face of continued pressure on the advertising market, though the company anticipates a reacceleration in the second quarter.

“In 2023, we are more focused than ever on maximizing our highly sought-after audience and our premium sports-first content to accelerate our direct sales business alongside our successful programmatic business,” wrote Fubo in a Q1 letter to shareholders.

On the May 5 earnings call Gandler noted that direct still only accounts for “a dramatically small component” of the company’s overall advertising sales, which the chief executive said gives him “a lot of comfort in our ability to continue to drive revenue.”

He cited two factors as being helpful to the effort, including a 30% year-over-year increase in ad avails despite relatively flat viewership trends, in part thanks to the number of regional sports networks (RSNs) Fubo’s added such as Bally Sports. For more on how RSNs helped Fubo curb churn in Q1 read here.

“We’re diluting the number of hours people watching on broadcast toward hours watching the RSNs. And that is creating more inventory given the fact we don’t have inventory on the broadcast nets,” Gandler explained.

The other factor he said is working in Fubo’s favor is free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels, which it’s been adding to round out content offerings while also increasing the amount of ad inventory. In Q1 Fubo reported a record 13 million viewership hours from over 100 FAST channels.

“We have a 50% split in most cases with our FAST channel partners, which is more than twice the amount of inventory we get from the cable nets,” Gandler said. He added that despite viewership on FAST channels accounting for less than 5%, they’re providing “upwards of 7% or 8% in terms of avail. So there’s a lot of opportunity there.”

Fubo CFO John Janedis added that as a percentage, pure direct ad sales saw triple-digit year over year growth, with expectations for the number to trend to double-digits over the next couple of quarters or beyond into 2024.

The importance of direct ad sales versus programmatic is that they command significantly higher rates. Gandler noted that direct sale CPMs (or cost per thousand impressions) “are typically between 20% and 50% above programmatic CPM. So it’s a very important component for us going forward.”