Fox planning 'major overhaul' of its streaming apps

Fox appears to be focusing on opportunities within virtual MVPDs such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now and Hulu's upcoming service.

21st Century Fox in the next few months will launch significant updates to its branded streaming apps, CEO James Murdoch said during Monday’s earnings call.

“…In the U.S., within the next few months, we will be rolling out a major overhaul of our streaming apps, which will deliver a step change for customers and future customers in quality, in discovery and in engagement,” Murdoch said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Fox streaming apps include the broadcaster’s authenticated apps Fox Now, FX Now and Fox Sports Go.

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Murdoch didn’t offer many details on what that overhaul might entail but he did mention that Fox is also considering the possibility of launching a direct-to-consumer product, similar to what CBS has done with All Access.

As Digital TV Europe points out, Murdoch said direct-to-consumer is an “option” in the U.S. market to offer “independently priced access” to a suite of apps similar to the ones Fox has developed alongside pay-TV providers.

But in terms of offering Fox content directly to consumers outside of the traditional linear TV bundle, Murdoch and company appear to be focused on the opportunities within vMVPDs such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now and, in particular, Hulu’s upcoming live TV service. Fox, along with NBCUniversal and Disney/ABC, is a part-owner of Hulu.

Murdoch reiterated Hulu’s plans to launch the service in the coming months and touted the work that Fox and Hulu’s teams have been putting in to address streaming TV mishaps that especially occur during high-volume events that draw large amounts of concurrent streams.

“You never rule out teething problems and I think it’s instructive—or it’s worthwhile kind of just mentioning that some of these problems in streaming, particularly concurrent live events when everyone’s logging in at the same second, it’s non-trivial,” Murdoch said.

Murdoch declined to discuss Hulu’s progress in finalizing a deal to include NBCUniversal channels in Hulu’s live TV product but played up Hulu’s work to ensure that the upcoming offering would be complete and up to par with viewers’ standards.

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“That said, I know that the team there is very focused on putting together a package of programs and brands that are going to really work for the customers and they’ll make those decisions as that commercial negotiation kind of plays itself out. But I think the product is going to be pretty good,” said Murdoch.

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