21st Century Fox seems content to watch for now as competitors like CBS jump headfirst into direct-to-consumer streaming products.
Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Fox CEO James Murdoch said that his company is in no rush to launch standalone OTT services for its individual brands. Murdoch said that Fox has to be careful to not “fragment the business” by launching OTT products.
Those comments from Murdoch conflict somewhat with statements made last year by Fox COO Chase Carey. During Fox’s 2015 first-quarter earnings call, Carey talked up the opportunities presented through OTT for reaching audiences that may have strayed or avoided all together traditional linear TV.
"Everybody talks about the millennials, and I think the ability to create packages or offers that they speak to that generation is also an interesting opportunity," he said. “Obviously, they're consumers we don't reach today… I think it's important everything we do is adding to the pie, not cannibalizing the pie, creating offers that speak to customers that want something different. We think that will be a relatively small minority but it's important for us to do. And we look forward to developing all of that."
Meanwhile, at the same conference, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said his company is already “well positioned” to launch direct-to-consumer services in 2017.
Zaslav has been bullish on direct-to-consumer offerings and his company has already launched what he termed a “sports Netflix” in Europe with Eurosport, which offers live sports content for $8 per month.
In a recent interview with CNBC, Zaslav said Discovery’s overall mission to “own great IP, build great channels and put it on every platform.”
“One piece of that is to be on every skinny bundle,” said Zaslav. “The other piece is to take our content directly to consumers.”
For Discovery or Fox to enter the direct-to-consumer space, they could have to contend with some fairly established players. CBS said it already has 1 million subscribers each for its CBS All Access and Showtime OTT platforms. And HBO Now has been operating as a standalone streaming service for more than a year now.