Seems like a new standalone video-streaming service charging a monthly subscription begins every couple of weeks. And in fact, that's what's happening.
At last count, 27 subscription-based video streaming platforms were launched in the U.S. in 2016, according to Dallas market research group Parks Associates.
A handful were started by large media conglomerates, while others began with funding from ambitious investors seeking a foothold in digital pay-TV as traditional cable TV and satellite services have stopped growing. Subscribers totaled 96.8 million at the end of the third quarter, compared with 99.8 million four years ago, according to media analyst firm MoffettNathanson.
Of services that started this year, some such as AT&T's (T) - Get AT&T Inc. ReportDirecTV Now are reproducing the cable TV experience for digital subscribers, while others are creating specialty niches such as comedy-centric Seeso for $3.99 per month from Comcast's (CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report NBCUniversal and MyOutdoorTV, which carries programming for $4.99 per month, from Denver-based Kroenke Sports & Entertainment's Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel.
Still others such as the millennial-charged Rooster Teeth are aiming to transition users of a free site into paying subscribers.
Yet not everything turns to gold in subscription video on demand, known in the industry as SVOD.
Vessel, the $2.99 per month video startup co-founded in 2013 by former Hulu CEO Jason Killar, was forced to shut down in October despite raising more than $134 million from an investor group that included Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report CEO Jeff Bezos' Bezos Expeditions and Greylock Partners. Verizon (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report did buy Vessel's technology and hire some employees but pulled the plug on the service.
Others to close their doors included Shomi, SoompiTV, Yahoo Screen and 3DGo.
"There's definitely an oversupply problem lurking out there, though I don't think we're quite there yet," said Mike Vorhaus, president of industry consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates, from Los Angeles. "If you don't have a passionate audience, you'd better have something that's as good as Netflix (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Report or Hulu."
David Gandler, co-founder and CEO of fuboTV, said he has a product to match a passionate audience. In his case, it's sport fans.
At present, subscription video services specializing on sports are limited almost exclusively to a single league, as in MLB.TV for Major League Baseball, or entertainment such as pro wrestling's WWE Network. Those two services ranked fourth and fifth in subscriber size as of October behind Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, according to Parks Associates.
The sports fan, Gandler said, is being pulled every which way, required to pay upwards of $150 a month to get a full slate of sports. Of course, fuboTV is unlikely to ever carry Disney's (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report ESPN, the foremost U.S. sports network, but that's why the platform, offered in the U.S. and Canada, remains primarily focused on soccer and an international audience.
Gandler formed fuboTV in 2014 with two former colleagues from DramaFever, an online subscription video service that Time Warner (TWX) acquired in February from SoftBank Group. The idea behind fuboTV was to give fans a skinny bundle of live sports in both English and Spanish.
FuboTV launched in January 2015 as a $9.99 per month service, airing 30 to 40 live soccer matches each week along with hundreds of hours of video-on-demand content, concentrated on soccer. The site offered games from European and Latin American leagues, bundling together an offering that fans previously only could get through multiple subscriptions.
But seeking growth and a higher price point, fuboTV was able to convince 21st Century Fox (FOXA) - Get Fox Corporation Class A Report , NBCUniversal and A+E Networks, co-owned by Disney and Hearst, to license the nascent service an array of sports-focused networks including regional channels that carry local NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball games.
The much-expanded $34.99 a month fuboTV package will include Fox Soccer Plus, Fox College Sports, the Golf Channel and New York's YES network, among many others, and is set to become available early next year in a beta version with plans to increase the price to $49.99 per month with additional networks later in 2017.
"The next 24 to 36 months, things are going to change, and they're going to change very rapidly," Gandler said. "Two months ago, no one would have thought fuboTV would build out a larger skinny bundle or even taken us seriously. But things are going to change a lot in SVOD."
FuboTV is betting that it can compete with much larger multichannel offerings such as DirecTV Now and Dish Network's (DISH) - Get DISH Network Corporation Class A Report Sling TV because of its comparatively lean corporate structure. Based in New York, FuboTV has just 67 employees, having outsourced a variety of operations such as video delivery last year to Akamai Technologies (AKAM) - Get Akamai Technologies, Inc. Report .
In May, fuboTV raised a comparatively tiny $15 million from Fox and Sky, which the Murdochs have subsequently said they plan to acquire in full. Other investors included high-profile venture capitalists Edgar Bronfman, Chris Silbermann of ICM Partners, DCM Ventures and LionTree Partners.
"What we've raised is probably one month's marketing budget at some of those larger services," Gandler said. "We feel we can be far more efficient than anyone in this space."
That's important given that most streaming services must expect to lose money for 18 to 24 months, according to Parks Associates' Glenn Hower.
For the moment, Gandler said he's not worried about surpassing the 1 million subscriber mark, a closely watched industry threshold. As of June, about 15 months into the service, fuboTV had attracted 70,000 paying customers. While Time Warner's HBO Now and CBS's (CBS) - Get CBS Corporation Class B Report CBS All Access respectively have amassed 1.5 million and 1.2 million subscribers, good for seventh and 10th among SVOD services, Gandler argued that each of them has much larger cost structures. (Sling TV, anime and Asian media specialist Crunchyroll and CBS's Showtime round out the 10 largest subscription video services.)
FuboTV's expanded service comes at a time of unparalleled consumer choice for video. The era of the closed cable TV package has ended as the barriers to entry have been lowered by the internet.
And even as many new SVOD services are expected to emerge in 2017 -- notably, Hulu's multichannel service and something similar from Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report Google, Unplugged -- it's not clear whether the market has become saturated or even crowded.
"When you give consumers choice around media, especially video, which has shown to be very disruptive, they keep buying more," said Dave Morgan, founder of marketing technology company Simulmedia. "It's sort of crazy to think that consumers are only going to take one or two bundles. Video services has always been an area where people are willing to pay."
A recent survey by Magid Associates revealed that 72% of U.S. households subscribe to at least one SVOD service, usually Netflix. Of that group, 63% subscribed to two or more services, and 13% subscribed to four or more.
"The number of people subscribing to multiple services is growing," Vorhaus said. "A lot of these didn't even exist until a couple of years ago. Where this stop, no one knows."
That's reason enough for fuboTV to stick around.