Streaming Company FuboTV Agrees to Combine With FaceBank

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(Bloomberg) -- FuboTV Inc., the live-television streaming platform backed by large media companies, agreed to merge with FaceBank Group Inc., which creates digital likenesses of celebrities and sports stars.

David Gandler, the chief executive officer of FuboTV, will lead the combined company, according to a statement Monday that confirmed an earlier report by Bloomberg News.

While the valuation of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the month, wasn’t disclosed, FaceBank said in a filing that it had obtained a $110 million credit line for the transaction. Gandler said the New York-based company had raised $250 million in funding, plus $25 million in debt to date.

Gandler said the plan is to list the combined company’s shares as soon as possible on Nasdaq. The company’s stock could be something of a safe haven during the coronavirus crisis, as more people stay at home and watch TV instead of going out.

“From a public market standpoint, people should have access to ‘stay at home stocks’ besides Netflix and Roku,” Gandler said in an interview.

While FuboTV is known for allowing users to watch live sports, it also carries news and general entertainment channels, which is helping it weather the current suspension of professional sports.

FuboTV users are streaming an average of six hours a day on the service, up 45% from a year ago. About 30% of that time is spent watching live news, including both cable channels and local broadcasts.

Closely held FuboTV’s investors include 21st Century Fox Inc. and AMC Networks Inc., which joined in a $75 million funding round in 2018. Jupiter, Florida-based FaceBank, which was founded in 2009, has a market valuation of about $200 million.

Floyd Mayweather

FuboTV’s basic package of 109 channels starting at $54.99 a month aims to replace traditional cable TV by delivering channels including Fox and NBC over the internet. The deal with FaceBank will give it access to the company’s catalog of digital characters, which are designed to replicate human actions in both fantasy and real-world scenarios. Its projects include a joint venture with boxer Floyd Mayweather to pit current and former fighters -- living or dead -- against each other in matchups using its technology.

“If you thought Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor was a massive global pay per view event, then how about Mayweather vs. Bruce Lee?” FaceBank writes on its website.

FaceBank CEO John Textor said he was introduced to FuboTV while he was looking for a partner to help develop and distribute a hyper-realistic Mayweather fight.

FuboTV’s Gandler said it would probably take at least six months for such an event to be on pay per view. “But it feels like the right time to engage with this type of technology.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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