As Disney, NBC and others forge ahead, Fox remains cagey on streaming future

Fox Nation
Fox said Fox Nation had its biggest ever subscriber acquisition months in December and January. (Fox News)

Fox is maintaining an extra disciplined approach to direct-to-consumer streaming as peers like Disney, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia go full steam ahead.

During Wednesday’s fiscal second quarter earnings call, Fox was asked at what point it would consider taking Fox Broadcast or Fox News online as a la carte or direct-to-consumer offerings. Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch said it’s something his company has an eye on, but pointed out that it could only occur within a scenario that doesn’t damage the company’s successful cable and broadcast businesses.

“I think that we have the capability to go direct-to-consumer. We took the technology that we built with us when we separated from Disney,” Murdoch said.

He noted that Fox is running some direct-to-consumer businesses through Fox Sports pay-per-view and Fox Nation, Fox News’ subscription streaming platform with original programming designed to complement what airs on the network.

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Murdoch didn’t provide a subscriber total update for Fox Nation, but did say that 80% of consumers who start free trials for the service end up as paying subscribers, and that December and January were the highest months in history for both subscriber acquisitions and engagement on the platform.

Despite the potential success of services like Fox Nation, Fox’s DTC strategy differs from Disney, NBCU and WarnerMedia, which are taking more all-in approaches in terms of consolidating their owned and licensed content on single streaming platforms.

Disney+ launched in November last year and the company just announced it has already amassed 28.6 million paid subscribers. The service, along with ESPN+ and Hulu, is key to Disney shifting its business model toward streaming.

In the meantime, NBCU is gearing up to launch Peacock, an ad-supported streaming service, and WarnerMedia is preparing to launch subscription platform HBO Max, later this year.