As virtual MVPDs continue their push to sign local affiliates of major broadcast networks, PlayStation Vue remains one of the leaders in that crucial department. The skinny bundle said it has added 17 more Fox affiliates this week in such major markets as Denver, Seattle, Cleveland-Akron, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Portland, Oregon.
Affiliate deals are key differentiating factors in the crowded field of vMVPDs because many customers with traditional bundles could hesitate when considering making a switch if they will experience major gaps in local coverage or tentpole broadcast events like sports. Hulu's entry this spring raised the bar in this area, rolling out Hulu Live everywhere by virtue of Fox Broadcasting being one of the company's co-owners.
Vue is the main distribution arm for Sony, which notably lacks major networks, long a hindrance in its overall TV strategy. It has been aggressive in signing affiliates. In January, it added 20 CBS affiliates, and within a year of launch had all of the Big Four network O&O stations, something some skinny players still lack.
From the stations' perspective, there is a lot to balance as they negotiate with vMVPDs. Station groups have divergent strategies, with some prizing fully live OTT broadcasts and others opting for an on-demand scenario or driving viewers to their own apps and websites. Still, three of the four major broadcast networks have now reached agreements with their affiliates that should result in an uptick in deals with vMVPDs.
Marketing and promotion for vMVPDs can nevertheless hit snags due to spotty local market availability. When last fall's epic World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians reached game seven, Sling ran a promotion encouraging viewers to sign up in order to be able to watch the game. The ad included the requisite "where available" caveat, but anyone who missed it could have signed up and not found the game.
Here are the Fox affiliates Vue just added:
- Baltimore - FOX 45
- Cleveland-Akron (Canton) - FOX 8
- Columbus, Ohio – FOX 28
- Denver - FOX 31
- Hartford & New Haven, Connecticut – FOX 61
- Indianapolis - FOX 59
- Kansas City, Missouri – FOX 4
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin – FOX 6
- Nashville, Tennessee – FOX 17
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - FOX 53
- Portland, Oregon - FOX 12
- Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto - FOX 40
- Salt Lake City – FOX 13
- San Antonio - FOX San Antonio
- San Diego - FOX 5
- Seattle-Tacoma - Q13 FOX
- St. Louis - FOX 2