OTT & Digital

FuboTV and FaceBank merge to embrace virtual entertainment

OTT platform receives US$10m loan as sports programming takes Covid-19 hit.

by Steven Impey

FuboTV and FaceBank merge to embrace virtual entertainment

FuboTV has entered into a definitive merger agreement with virtual entertainment company FaceBank Group, designed to diversify the over-the-top (OTT) streaming service's sports and entertainment offering.

Under the terms of the agreement, FuboTV will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of FaceBank, which will be renamed FuboTV Inc, once the merger is closed. The new entity is expected to be headquartered in New York and led by FuboTV chief executive David Gandler.

FaceBank, previously Pulse Evolution, is best known for its entertainment holograms such as the Tupac performance at the 2012 Coachella music festival and the Michael Jackson display at the 2014 Billboard Awards. 

FuboTV launched as a soccer-focused streaming platform in 2015 but now also offers live content from the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL), amongst other sports properties via its affiliation network. 

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shutting down most live sports, Gandler told Front Office Sports the platform would be shifting its focus on to entertainment and news. The merger appears to set up FuboTV to house FaceBank's virtual performances, as well offering the streaming service the opportunity to leverage its owner's IP sharing relationships with leading celebrities and the Nexway AG global ecommerce platform, which has a presence in 180 countries.

As per the details of the merger filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FaceBank has agreed a US$10 million line of credit with HLEE Finance, which it plans to loan to the FuboTV business. 

Gandler said: “The business combination of FaceBank Group and FuboTV accelerates our ability to build a category defining company and supports our goal to provide consumers with a technology-driven cable TV replacement service for the whole family.

“With our growing businesses in the US, and recent beta launches in Canada and Europe, FuboTV is well-positioned to achieve its goal of becoming a world-leading live TV streaming platform for premium sports, news and entertainment content.

“In the current Covid-19 environment, stay-at-home stocks make perfect sense. We plan to accelerate our timing to up-list to a major exchange as soon as practicable. We look forward to working with John and his team of creative visionaries.”

In a joint statement, FaceBank founders John Textor and Alex Bafer added: ‘As a tech-driven IP company, FaceBank was looking to find the perfect delivery platform for its celebrity and consumer driven content, with a dynamic user interface that could support the global consumers’ rapidly evolving practices of content consumption.

‘David and his team have a clear vision of the future and FuboTV’s technology is second to none among the disruptor class of content delivery – a perfect match for FaceBank Group.’