In the topsy turvy world of broadcasters and online streaming, it seems we have a new entrant with FOX Sports Go. The word Go appears to be the only word they can find to denote that this is aimed at mobile devices but so be it. FOX has decided to give everyone a one day taste of their new authenticated, pay TV offering. However, if you're limited to just a smartphone, you're S.O.L... as in out of luck.
FOX clearly wants, perhaps needs, to make a big splash with this new streaming offering in order to draw attention to it by providers and viewers. I imagine they can use it as a mallet in an upcoming retransmission fees dispute to hammer on the cable/satellite companies in order to get more money out of them, even though they're saying it's to encourage more providers to pick up the channels for their customers. It doesn't seem to have gained a lot of traction with the only big providers listed being AT&T U-Verse and Xfinity. The rest are more regional providers.
In order to normally use FOX Sports GO you need a premium subscription to FOX Sports, FOX Sports 1 and/or FOX Sports 2. They say on the website it is at "no additional cost," that is aside from your pay TV subscription fees and your premium channel subscription fees for the FOX Sports channels.
Same Game, Different Ads
If you were thinking this would be a great way to have the game on your tablet and see the ads, you can't. The ad inventory for the streaming has been sold separately from the TV inventory and so you will see differing ads. So if you want to see them, just head over to Hulu and/or YouTube where the ads themselves are being shown. It's interesting that they would plan to do this but not package the digital and the TV ads together. I have to believe that they offered it to the advertisers but that the ad buyers didn't see the benefit. I mean, 3 million people is not even one percent reach for the ads, a number so small it probably won't even move any of the major metrics.
If I were a savvy, forward-looking brand media buyer, I would have scooped up some of that space, and this may very well have been done, and then made the most outrageous, outlandish, funniest, ads we could make with the budget. Things that people would be talking about for days but that you might not be able to show on standard broadcast TV. There has to be more leeway. Oh wait, it's FOX.
Of course, this is nothing new with previous broadcasters NBC and CBS both streaming the game live and free the past few years topping around 3 million viewers last year. Verizon has a standing $1 billion deal with the NFL for streaming to mobile phones, hence why you can't get the FOX Sports GO version on smartphones, only tablets and PCs. This is the first year that they are able to stream the Super Bowl to smartphones. That's a pretty good exclusive deal.
Fox Sports Go will be freely available from 12 AM EST Sunday, Feb. 2, through 3 AM EST Monday, Feb. 3.
It still seems to me like they are missing an opportunity with the FOX sports networks. Instead of limiting viewers to being on a particular provider, it seems logical to open it to everyone for a small fee, smaller than what the providers are charging. But like I said, they are probably going to use it as a bargaining chip later in retransmission fee negotiations, not looking to the future or at the bigger picture. This could also be an app that later allows purchasing of key sports events which would be great. I don't want to watch all of the UEFA Champions League games, but I would love to pay a few bucks to watch the league final.