nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Fox Now app is awesome, but less than 1% will ever use it

Fox Now Apple TV splash

Fox just released a new version of its Now app for Apple TV. It is perhaps the best TV Everywhere app out there, but few Fox viewers will likely use it.

What content is included

Fox released a new version of its Now app on Apple TV this week. The app is completely redesigned and brings together content from three of Fox’s channels: Fox, FX, and National Geographic. The company says it will add content from other channels, including Fox Sports, later. You will need a pay TV subscription to watch much of the content.

The app includes live linear feeds of the channels, as well as access to many shows on-demand. However, not all the content from the included channels is included. I couldn’t view my local Fox affiliate (KTVU) through app. This seems odd since I can watch it through Sling TV and DirecTV Now. Other key shows are missing too. For example, the popular FX show Atlanta cannot be viewed through Fox Now.

That said, the app does warn the user that “some shows and movies may not be available to watch” on the opening splash screen.

A great TV Everywhere app

The app interface is terrific. On-demand content is organized by channel, by content type, and there’s even a category for shows that are leaving the service soon. There is a traditional grid guide for the linear channels. Some shows can even be restarted from the beginning if they are already in progress.

With the Apple TV’s unified sign in for TV Everywhere apps, getting to the content is a breeze. As well, the app makes full use of voice search. I could speak the titles of shows I wanted to watch, and immediately see a list of matching assets.

Who will use the app?

TV network app usersThough the app provides a great experience it likely won’t be used by most Fox viewers, even after it is rolled out to other connected platforms. The existing Fox Now app for mobile, which has been available for several years, is used by few consumers. TiVo says 28.1% of consumers have downloaded a TV Network app onto their mobile device. Of those, just 3.2% (0.9% of all consumers) have the Fox Now app on their device.

There are other reasons why the app might not find favor with many viewers. All the content, live linear and on-demand, includes unskippable ads. That means viewers will likely record it to their operator DVR where they can skip, or at least fast-forward, through the ads.

Fox has not been shy in providing its content to other services. Virtual MVPDs like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue have Fox channels, and already have Fox Sports. Assuming most people watch other channels than just Fox, FX, and National Geographic, their pay TV operator TV Everywhere app is probably a much more convenient way to watch the Fox content.

What’s the app for?

The most likely reason Fox has released the new app is in preparation for launching a standalone service akin to CBS All Access. Aside from the fact that CBS has a million subscribers to All Access, the platform is allowing it to try new models Fox can’t. For example, releasing Star Trek: Discovery exclusively through the CBS app provides an entirely new way for broadcasters to monetize premium content. If the Star Trek release is a success, expect other broadcasters like Fox to move as fast as they can to copy the model.

Why it matters

The new FOX Now app for Apple TV provides a great way to experience Fox, FX, and National Geographic content in both linear and on-demand forms.

Notwithstanding the great design, few Fox viewers will ever use it.

The app is worthwhile, however, to ensure Fox is ready to launch a standalone service like CBS All Access at short notice if it needs to.

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