Media groups Fox Corp. and NBCUniversal are looking to buy ad-supported streaming platforms meant to lure customers who don’t want to spend money on subscriptions, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Fox, the Murdoch-family controlled media group which owns the Fox News Channel, has said it would be willing to shell out some $500 million for Tubi, a streaming platform which airs mostly older movies and TV shows, the report said.
A tie-up could help expand the footprint of Fox, which last year sold much of its film and television assets to Disney but retained its broadcast television network in the deal.
Tubi, sometimes called the “free Netflix,” claims to have some 25 million users and recently announced an expansion into Europe. It already operates in the United States, Canada and Australia.
NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast, is meanwhile engaged in what the WSJ called advanced talks with Vudu, a Walmart-owned, ad-supported service that allows users to rent and buy movies or watch them online via a free streaming platform.
NBCUniversal already has plans to launch a new streaming television service called Peacock in April, which can be accessed both ad-free or with ads at different payment tiers.
The potential Fox and NBCUniversal acquisitions come as internet platforms and entertainment groups are launching streaming and on-demand services as part of a larger trend to attract viewers who are veering away from traditional television.
Comcast is already in negotiations with the streaming platform Xumo, the WSJ reported in December.
Another US giant, Viacom (Paramount, MTV, Nickelodeon), acquired streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million last year.
A deal with Tubi could give Fox and its channels more viewers at a time when many are cutting back on expensive cable packages and watching streaming TV on services such as Netflix and Hulu.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 88, is the founder and chairman of Fox, with his son Lachlan holding the title of executive chairman and chief executive. The Murdochs also control News Corp, which publishes the Wall Street Journal.
When contacted by AFP, Fox and Tubi did not immediately comment on the report.