FuboTV promises no hidden fees, but there’s a big one

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With FuboTV’s addition of Bally Sports networks this week, it now has the most expensive base price of all live TV streaming services, but you’d never know it from the company’s marketing.

Visit the FuboTV home page, and you’ll see an advertised price of $74.99 for its “Pro” plan with “no hidden fees.” In reality, nearly every FuboTV customer will pay at least $86 per month, thanks a mandatory regional sports fee that ranges from $11 to $14 per month.

Instead of being upfront about these fees, FuboTV hides them until the final checkout page. Its home page contains no mention of a regional sports surcharge—not even in the fine print—yet it now applies to nearly all of the service’s customers.

By not disclosing those fees upfront, FuboTV is embracing a long-standing sneaky cable TV tactic, and it ought to be called out for doing so at every opportunity. This week’s expansion of regional sports to many more markets seems like as good a time as any.

What are FuboTV’s regional sports fees?

As noted on FuboTV’s support page, its regional sports fees depend on how many regional sports networks (or RSNs) you get. Customers with one RSN pay an extra $10.99 per month, and customers with two or more pay $13.99 per month.

One exception to that rule is for Roku users who sign up directly through Fubo’s Roku app. In that case, the regional sports fee is $14 per month even if you only receive one RSN.

Fubo waits until the final checkout page to disclose its regional sports fee, highlighted here in red.

Jared Newman / Foundry

You can use FuboTV’s “Virtual Assistant” to see how many RSNs are available in a given zip code, but keep in mind that that the regional sports fee is mandatory even if you have no interest in local sports channels. There’s no way to opt out of receiving (and paying for) them.

FuboTV’s response

Jennifer Press, a FuboTV spokeswoman, says the “no hidden fees” claim is accurate because the company discloses its fees on the final checkout page. She also notes that Fubo can’t determine the exact regional sports fee until customers confirm their home location during the sign-up process.

A few rebuttals:

  • The FuboTV landing page automatically detects users’ locations to show a list of available local channels. A more honest sign-up process would include projected regional sports fees in this channel list.
  • Fubo’s sign-up process asks users to set their home zip code before they choose a plan. FuboTV could therefore show an accurate regional sports fee on its plan selection page, but chooses not to.
  • Let’s not overthink this too much: “No hidden fees” implies that the advertised price is what you pay. With FuboTV, that’s simply not the case.

FuboTV plan selection page

Fubo says it needs to confirm your location before calculating a regional sports fee, but this plan selection page (with no fee listed) appears after your location is set.

Jared Newman / Foundry

At $86 per month and up (once the mandatory regional sports fee is taken into account), FuboTV is significantly pricier than its more popular rivals, YouTube TV ($65 per month) and Hulu + Live TV ($70 per month with the Disney bundle included).

While those services don’t offer regional sports in as many markets, only a small percentage of pay TV subscribers actually watch those channels; FuboTV would risk scaring everyone else off by disclosing its fees upfront. In FuboTV’s case, the truth hurts.

More sneaky tactics

If you’re undeterred by FuboTV’s hidden fees, you’ll still need to exercise caution when signing up, as the company employs a couple other tricks that might increase your TV bill.

By default, for instance, Fubo’s plan selection screen chooses the “Elite” package (which includes extra channels and 4K video) rather than the cheaper “Pro” plan. If you simply hit the “Continue” button without clicking on the Pro plan first, you’ll be on the hook for an extra $10 per month.

FuboTV quarterly billing upsell

FuboTV’s quarterly billing upsell page doesn’t mention regional sports fees, either.

Jared Newman / Foundry

After you choose a plan, Fubo also tries to push a quarterly billing option that provides no benefits over the monthly plan. This “Switch to quarterly” button is highlighted in orange, and the description of this option still lists a monthly price. This page seems to serve no purpose other than ensnaring folks who aren’t paying close attention. (It also fails to mention the regional sports fee.)

Historically, a big advantage of live TV streaming services over cable has been their transparency and customer-friendliness. They might not always be drastically cheaper, but at least they don’t try to hit you with hidden fees and other gotchas.

FuboTV has become the exception to the rule, becoming more like the cable TV services it wants to replace.

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