Originally posted on LinkedIn

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A Call for Modern Performance Marketing

By Mike Vorhaus, CEO Vorhaus Advisors

The transition of advertising into the digital world took us from a time of Tinseltown and Madison Avenue to the world of Silicon Valley and technology disruptions. 

Why are some marketers lagging behind with outdated methodologies while others are outperforming with enhanced programmatic user acquisition and engagement campaigns?

Advertising has a major role in every mobile app company’s P&L. Such big-budget items must be managed wisely and carefully. Times have changed, and as you can see in theAd evolution chart by Visual Capitalist, old media is in constant decline while digital media skyrockets. Using the plethora of cutting-edge user acquisition, retention, and retargeting technologies the digital world has to offer is essential.

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Bernard Kim, President of Zynga, said to me, “In the 20 years, I have watched and actively managed mobile gaming studios and publishers. It is clear that the science of user acquisition and retention is a major driver of value in the gaming industry. Alongside making great games, is the art and science of player recruitment.”

So, what is the best solution? It changes rapidly. The evolution of app user acquisition involves an endless cycle of challenges and solutions. Marketers need to vigorously look for the latest and greatest ways to attract new users and retarget idle and previous users. Likewise, executives in marketing at app companies must stay alert for the “next new thing” in digital marketing.  

Perhaps the best example of modern mobile consumer acquisition methodologies and analytics has been the work done by mobile gaming companies. 

Andrew Pedersen, Managing Director & Co-President of Big Fish Games, sheds light on the subject, “I have long been focused on designing and making great, fun games, originally on the Web and now on mobile devices. While we worked hard to get players to come to our web games, nothing compares with the creative, relentless, and innovative approaches that must be taken to compete in the user acquisition wars for mobile gamers.”

Before mobile gaming, marketing in most consumer-facing industries had suffered from the “50% problem” when advertising to a mass consumer audience. This problem is explained best by the words of marketing pioneer, John Wannamaker, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Mobile gaming, being an extremely competitive market, had to adopt and refine programmatic marketing technologies to far surpass the 50% bar for targeting receptive users.

In the last couple of decades, the marketing industry has seen many challenges that were overcome by digital marketing pioneers in the gaming industry. A current challenge is iOS 14 LAT (Limit Ad Tracking). Companies and service providers that completely rely on Apple’s IDFA for targeting users may be out of work in the next couple of months. How did they get to that point when countless companies have been offering knowledge bases, strategies, and solutions that would help mitigate upcoming problems as Apple introduces the IDFA opt-out?

Industry estimates are that 50% to 95% of users will choose the LAT option, with most estimates in the 85% to 90% range. Are you willing to take that risk?

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History shows that companies that don’t adapt lose their edge, and eventually, their business. Yahoo, MySpace, Blockbuster, and Blackberry are foreboding examples of this.

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This is a wake-up call for all marketing, finance, and C-Level leaders to push their teams to go beyond their comfortable, pre-existing approaches to app marketing and adopt the modern performance marketing solutions that have recently proven to steadily outperform prior methods in both ROAS and downloads. All of the key players in app development need to aggressively seek solutions that will make their P&L shine. Having popular apps is great, but at the end of the day, companies need to keep generating money from their apps so they can grow and develop more. 

A great example is when a major public gaming company, that I consulted with, decided to not rest on their laurels and see if there was a way to optimize their already “successful” $10M+/month ad spend. Like in a blockbuster film, an army of analysts was assigned to go over the numbers and suggest a game plan for testing new channels instead of simply relying on past successes.

Their insights showed that Facebook isn’t always the ideal go-to, and that if one SSP (Supply Side Platform) or DSP (Demand Side Platform) doesn’t do well, it doesn’t mean that another SSP or DSP will also fail. In fact, one DSP showed promising test results and the company has eagerly committed to its ongoing use. As Robert Kennedy once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”. In the modern, competitive mobile world, one must dare.

This paradigm shift is typical of an overall company culture that focuses on innovation and growth, and usually comes from the top. CMOs at app and gaming companies are no longer only in charge of marketing departments, they are thought leaders for change, and their decisions are more crucial than ever. Look at the ever-growing marketing budgets, technological knowledge, and statistical abilities a CMO must garner to stay on trend and competitive.

Yaron Nahari, Co-Founder and CEO, Bigabid, explains, “A CMO’s responsibility these days is enormous. They need to think like veterans, teenagers, across genders and cultures, all while managing a multi-million-dollar marketing budget. After being on the vendor side of the advertising industry for over 20 years, staying on trend and using the latest tech and methodologies is crucial for the modern CMO and has an effect on their company’s growth like never before.” 

A great piece by Norm Yustin at Forbes shows that, even during these difficult times, more CMOs have moved companies than ever before. It also shows that more internal appointments of those who live the companies’ DNA were made. And finally, there are now more female CMOs than males.

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Change is happening, it’s global, and cross-industries. For the sake of your organization, I hope you will be on the right side of progress by staying up to date on the new offerings in digital marketing. Dare to explore and test!

A good reference on how modern DSPs are evolving, and why it’s crucial to stay on trend is here- https://www.bigabid.com/the-modern-age-of-mobile-dsps/ 

Best of luck (but you won’t need it),

Mike Vorhaus, CEO, Vorhaus Advisors

Mike Vorhaus is CEO of Vorhaus Advisors, after spending 24 years running the digital and gaming divisions at Magid.  Mike advises start-ups, growth companies, and large public companies in the media, digital and gaming works, as well as ad tech. He is also a successful early-stage investor in many companies that have gone public or sold to other companies. Mike is on the Board of Perion (Nasdaq: PERI), Altimar Acquisitions (NYSE: ATAC), and PopReach (TSX: POPR). Mike is regularly interviewed and quoted by TV, print and digital new outlets.

Originally posted on Forbes

Earlier in our Covid lockdown, almost all sports were cancelled and there was little to broadcast. A number of sports newer to the TV world, like Lacrosse, were available and gained more attention, particularly last summer when live sports content was barely available on TV or the Internet. One big winner during the Covid-limited sports environment, was the Premier Lacrosse League(PLL), who played in a “health-safety pod” at one location, for all their 2020 games.

The League is now returning to normal travel-based competitions and recently announced a major deal with NBC and their Internet-based video service, Peacock, to stream their matchups this season.

This is the third season for the PLL since being founded by Michael and Paul Rabil, who are brothers, with funding from the Raine Group, CAA, The Chernin Group, Blum Capital, and Alibaba billionaire Joe Tsai, who also owns the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

All PLL’s televised coverage will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. This year is the first season that Peacock is the streaming home of the PLL.

“We are looking forward to presenting PLL’s world-class players and captivating style of play on Peacock, NBC and NBCSN,” said Pete Bevacqua Chairman, NBC Sports. “For the third consecutive year, following a momentous offseason for the PLL that welcomed a merger with Major League Lacrosse and a new expansion team in Cannons LC, we’re excited to showcase this historic moment on NBC Sports.”

Opening weekend of the 2021 PLL season will take place June 4-6 with five matchups from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of NFL’s New England Patriots.

In an exclusive email exchange with the founders of the PLL, Paul Rabil, co-founder and CMO of the Premiere Lacrosse League, as well as a college and professional lacrosse player said “This record slate of programming from NBC is a reflection of our success from the first two seasons on-air. The addition of Peacock as our streaming partner will further elevate the PLL as a property that embraces the future of content distribution. We’re eager to showcase even greater broadcast innovation that will surely bring more sports fans to lacrosse in 2021.”

The second of the Rabil brothers, co-founder and CEO of the PLL, Michael, said “The demand has never been higher for live sports content and we are excited to showcase lacrosse to the already large subscriber base of Peacock. In the last year of our current term with NBC, we are honored to be part of their selective sports properties on Peacock’s platform.”

Originally posted on Forbes

Zoom is the hot technology of the last year to be sure. Covid made the word – Zoom – a household name. Many fundamental technologies from the past (telegraph, printing press, combustion engines, etc. are fading fast or have already left our zeitgeist. One of the best examples of the fading, older technologies in our life, is the near elimination of landlines.

According to Statista, only about 37% of American households still have landlines – phones provided by the local telcos that operate off the copper phone lines strung across the Nation. Of course, if you ask someone under 30 years old, they might ask what a landline is.

On the other hand, this author, well in to his sixth decade of life, not only has a landline, but can tell you why I have one and how they work.

I have a mobile phone, of course. In fact, like most households, there is one mobile phone for every person in our household. And yet, I have a landline for which I pay a monthly bill. But why? My nephews and nieces don’t have landlines. One of the few people in my family with a landline is my 94 year old mother, who even has problems making the wireless version of her landline work.

But many of those, myself included, who have a landline are very sensible in this decision. Landlines, as no doubt few folks know, have their “own energy,” their own electric power. The copper wires used in the telephone system, installed across

the Nation decades after the telephone was invented in 1876, transmit a tiny bit of electric power that allows the landlines to operate completely independent of the household electricity or the general electric grid. Without electric power to the house and the grid, your cellphone batteries die and the wireless home phone systems fail. But your landline lives on, pulsing away, using the technology that makes voices audible on the phone – the ability to produce and interpret sound waves over an electrical circuit.

When I think about earthquakes here in Los Angeles, I worry about being able to communicate with the outside world after a big disaster. In such a situation my landline phone is my go-to device because it will not be felled as quickly as cell towers in an earthquake. When the energy does occasionally go out at home, I gleefully walk to my hard-wired landline phone (conveniently hidden away in the guest room) to assure myself that there is a reason I have not joined the vast majority of Americans without a landline.

What technology will be disrupted next and perhaps driven to extinction from our current technology tableau? The TV set? No, we need it as the monitor to our Netflix NFLX -1.5%, YouTube, Disney+, Roku and many others. The combustion engine? Yes, it seems to be going the way of the dodo bird. The movie theatre? The robust amount of entertainment content available to us and the fear of crowds sitting together for hours, threaten the stability of the movie exhibition industry.

Everyone is deeply immersed in the technology of old and the technology of new. The landline is not the canary in the coal mine because it is not predicting lethal, imminent danger, but it is more like the radio and the train – we still have them and we still use them, but there is something about them that seems so last century.

Good bye landline! Hello to the next disruptor of personal communications – the messaging service. Today, according to my recent national survey of U.S. households, over 75% of the US population with connection to the Internet and/or mobile phone services, use a messaging service at least once a week. It is quite clear where this trend is headed because 91% of 18-34 year olds are using messaging services regularly, vs. only 56% of the over 55 year old age group.

Eventually the messaging service may well challenge the “phone” function of the smartphone. Messaging services not only offer text, but also robust voice services, free, over the Internet. And remember, your smartphone is also a TV.

Originally posted on Forbes

Rolling Stone magazine, founded in 1967, in the depth of the free love and rock music revolution sweeping America, launched its first Twitch channel today, March 1. Rolling Stone announced that the new channel will have original live content hosted by Tia Hill and Jon Weigell, a diverse, Gen Z duo, who are video content creators and social media influencers. Twitch has tens of thousands of partner channels covering far more than gaming, for which it is well known. Music is a growing area on Twitch which is complimentary with the young audience often watching gaming content on the platform.

“The Rolling Stone on Twitch” channel will be streamed five days a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the channel will present a two-hour live variety show. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Rolling Stone will produce live music performances. The first live performances will be from Marcus King and Ted Park. The Rolling Stone shows on Twitch will have “an array of guests: both emerging and established musicians, comedians, actors, political figures, and journalists,” Rolling Stone said in their announcement.

Twitch, founded 10 years ago, has become the dominant live streaming platform on the Internet in the U.S. As of February 2020, it had 3 million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users, with 1.4 million average concurrent users

The Rolling Stone channel will allow fans to interact directly with their favorite artists

and performers. Executive Producer Christopher Cruz from Rolling Stone said the goal for the channel is to introduce audiences to Rolling Stone content in an entirely new way. “This channel is a labor of love for the Rolling Stone staff, and is an opportunity not just to bring our brand of storytelling to new audiences, but make them a part of the story.”

Ari Evans, CEO of Maestro.io, and a veteran entrepreneur in the live streaming industry, commented on this expansion by Rolling Stone into live streaming, “This is another example of how the music industry is expanding into the still largely untapped medium of live streaming. Furthermore, live streaming of virtual concerts and digital experiences are proving to be big revenue producers. For example Billie Eilish’s recent streaming concert, powered by Maestro, was one of the biggest monetized events of 2020. Rolling Stone’s new channel taps into new audiences, alternative monetization strategies, and a live interactive voice for the brand in the Twitch world. Hopefully it will further encourage other brands and artists to follow suit.”

Just five years after Rolling Stone magazine was founded, a hit song was released by Dr. Hook in 1972, called “The Cover of Rolling Stone.” Ever since then major music, cultural and political figures have sought to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Now maybe we will see Twitch on the cover of the Rolling Stone.


Originally posted on Forbes

This Sunday, for the 55th time, the Super Bowl will be played among the champions of the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference, respectively, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The winner of NFL’s finale to the football season (a football season unlike any other due to limited crowds and extensive Covid-19 testing and precautions) will not only be one of the two competing teams – but also CBS VIAC -1.3% will be a big winner with the huge revenue gathered from over 40 ads run during the game and previewed online.

In past years Super Bowl advertising has been dominated by consumer goods, beverages, snacks, cars, and some services (such as Turbo Tax). This year some of the

best known regular advertisers in the Super Bowl, such as Budweiser, Coke, and Pepsi are not advertising in the Super Bowl. Many of these traditional Super Bowl advertisers are “reallocating that money to increase public awareness about Covid-19 and the vaccination process” wrote Blake Morgan of Forbes.com recently.

So who is filling in those holes in the advertising schedule for the Super Bowl? As another reflection of the growth of the digital industry, this year there are 11 ads running in the Super Bowl from Internet/digital companies like Uber Eats, Amazon, Squarespace, Vroom, Mercari, Fiverr, Larna, Indeed, Dexcom DXCM -1.9%, Dr. Squatch

and Robinhood (newly famous from the Game Stop stock trading controversy). Last year there were only seven digital ads from such companies.

Looking back at Super Bowls past, and advertising from the dot.com industry, we first saw a Super Bowl ad from a dot.com in 1999 with a widely complimented ad from Monster.com – the online job site. According to Ad Age, “Before the Super Bowl, Monster.com’s traffic was running at about 1.5 unique visitors per month. For the remainder of 1999, it averaged 2.5 million visitors per month.” Ad Age named the Monster ad as the the ad of the year. Monster continued for a number of years to

advertise in the Super Bowl after their first ad in 1999. Peter Blacklow, CMO at Monster.com in the early 2000’s, said, “the key to successful Super Bowl advertising is repetition – year after year.” I saw that in the research I conducted years ago for Monster.com when consumers said they were waiting for the new Monster ad at each Super Bowl. Blacklow, now a General Partner at Boston Seed Capital (an early DraftKings investor) said, “Every year, the Monday after Super Bowl, we saw our resume submission up by 50% or more. Super Bowls should not be treated as one-off commercials, but rather as a concerted long-term branding play.”

At the height of the first Internet boom, in the year 2000, the Super Bowl was played on January 30 and gained the moniker of the “Dot.com Super Bowl.” During that Super Bowl, 17 Internet-related companies advertised during the game. Just one month later the tech-heavy Nasdaq NDAQ -0.2%hit an all time high and soon after plunged by 75% in less than two years. The first Internet bubble was over and in 2001 only two dot.coms advertised in the Super Bowl.

The economy, attacked by the Pandemic, has nonetheless been a boom year for all of the stock market, and certainly for the major Nasdaq players, like the commonly monikered group of companies – FANG – Facebook Amazon AMZN +0.8%Netflix NFLX -1.5% and Googl GOOG -0.3%e. This year’s Super Bowl, with a big increase in advertising from Internet-related companies, is just another reflection of the robust economic power of the Internet.

Originally posted on Forbes

This past election saw record numbers of voters. There were numerous comparisons of Americans’ voting behaviors after the election. Blue vs. Red. Urban vs. Rural. And Young vs. Older voters. In fact, younger voters (under 30) voted across most States by a margin of 20% or more on behalf of President Joe Biden than for former President Donald Trump.

A survey released after the election by the highly-regarded Pew Research Center shows that over two-thirds of 18-29 year old voters often get their news from devices such as phones, computers and tablets. In strong contrast, less than a majority of the 65 year old and older voters report they use digital sources to get news often. The 55 to 65 year old group is also heavily oriented to traditional news sources, while the 30 to 49 year old and older voters acted more like their younger fellow citizens, focusing more on digital sources for getting their news, than from traditional media like televisions, radio and print.

To further show the dramatic behavior differences in sources of news among voters in America, note that 16% of the youngest age group often used TV to get news while 68% of the oldest group used TV often to get their news.

It is also striking that only 3% of voters under 30 years old used print newspapers to get their news often, but 25% of the older voters (65 and above) said TV was a frequent source of news for them.

Across all age groups more than half of U.S. voters said they prefer digital devices for getting their news. Television only had 35% of all voters saying they preferred to get their news from TV. Not surprisingly, radio and newspapers only had 7% and 5% preference choice, respectively.

As you would expect social media has become a major source of newsfor all voters. As far back as 2004, in a Carnegie Corporation studyI helped lead, we had already started to highlight that younger people were much more likely to use the Internet to get their news. We predicted this would grow and it has in a very big way, particularly with the growth of smartphones.

So what does this mean for people covering the news and those consuming the news:


  1. Reporters and news outlets need to write for mobile devices – not just for a long printed newspaper article. Mobile news calls for a liberal use of headlines and subheadlines, photos, and short, scannable sentences and paragraphs.
  2. Government and political officials need to recognize that their messaging is often being consumed on mobile devices and they need to release the news or their opinions in formats and platforms that will appeal to young voters using mobile devices.
  3. The average citizen should be aware that longer, more in-depth analyses may exist in traditional sources on important issues and newsworthy figures.
  4. Likewise, reporters, editors, newsmakers, and the average person must recognize that social media has become a major outlet for news, which often means the news is being “reported” by a wide variety of types of folks, many of whom may be relying on other news or opinion that are “second-hand”.


Originally posted on Forbes

The movie industry has changed considerably since the moving-picture cinema was created in the 1880’s, as the work of a few inventors (including Thomas Edison) and technologies merged together to create something very similar to today’s theatrical movie business.

Few industries have been more devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic than the movie business. But it didn’t take a worldwide pandemic to challenge the theatrical movie industry which has been beaten down by the growth of at-home entertainment (both technology and programming), as well as the growth of interactive entertainment like mobile and video gaming.

One more indication of the changes in the movie industry today involve one of the great technology companies of the early 1900’s – Technicolor. This company was created in 1914 by two scientists in Boston who attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (hence the work “Techni” before “color”). Over the years, Technicolor came to dominate the technology used to produce movies in color. Now they have announced that they are selling their post production business. Other deals have also been made in the post-production area, such as Company 3’s sale to Framestore, a large visual effects and production company backed by China Cultural Investments Holding Companyof Shanghai, China.

This deal moves the Technicolor unit into a larger enterprise in the post-production world and, presumably, will provide added value to the buyer through consolidation and building scale by combining the companies.

Technicolor is probably best known for its work on seminal titles like The Wizard of Oz made in 1939. Technicolor will continue to be in “show-business” with its “visual effects and animation companies MPC, The Mill, Mr. X and Mikros Animation, which service film, TV, advertising, gaming and live events and are not part of the deal.”, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Technicolor also has businesses in the connected home arena, broadband technology, and set-top boxes.

Technicolor CEO Richard Moat said in a statement, that “The strategic sale of Technicolor Post is part of our long-term vision for Technicolor Production Services to focus on VFX and animation for the entertainment industry, and creative services and technologies for the advertising industry, which provide the maximum value to our clients.”

In an exclusive email interview, Bruce Hack, former Chairman of the Board of Technicolor and well-regarded media executive across traditional media and gaming. said to this author, “Technicolor is selling what is likely the least valuable portion of its creative services business, post production. It is retaining the more profitable and defensible activities, like premium film and TV production, where it holds a market leading position based on talent, technology and geographic leverage.”

Originally posted on Forbes

Before the World Wide Web existed, there were encyclopedias for kids, students, teachers, parents and pretty much anyone looking for information, to go to find that information. But the Internet and the Web have changed almost everything about most of our lives – and finding information is no different. Today, Wikipedia is one of the most visited Websites in the World and will it turn 20 years old on January 15, 2021.

For millions of people, Wikipedia has changed how they learn, how they teach, how they parent, and, for some – how they “borrow” content for a school paper.

At its core, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, free to users, and supported by a non-profit foundation since its founding by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Wikipedia covers almost any topic you can imagine from Advarks and Abba, to the Zodiac and Zip Codes.

The content in Wikipedia is created in a collaborative manner, with the leadership of a large cadre of volunteer editors, who rely on an iterative process of posts and corrections, which is the simplest way to describe the nature of a “wiki” editing system. In the nomenclature of the Internet Industry, this is a “crowd-sourced” platform. Perhaps the best way to understand Wikipedia is to read about it…in Wikipedia!

Many teachers and professors have discouraged the use of Wikipedia, both due to plagiarism concerns as well as the questionable quality of some of the “facts” in Wikipedia. But other respected instructors think Wikipedia can be a good jumping off point for a student exploring a subject. For many people Wikipedia is the first stop when trying to learn something or settle an argument about a certain topic or fact. The coverage of Wikipedia is immense and is presented in over 300 languages

For frequently researched and discussed topics, Wikipedia is able to be highly reliable and accurate, because large numbers of readers and editors are constantly watching changes on Wikipedia articles and using the “wisdom of the crowd” to keep articles factual. As we have found with social media and other information outlets, the “truth” is often challenged, but it can also usually be verified. Wikipedia at 20 years old is an important information source for most people who are digitally connected.

Originally posted on Forbes

This last year, while the world has been hunkered down under the strain of the Covid pandemic, a completely unrelated burst of stock investment activity has risen around gambling online in the U.S. There is a long and complicated history of online poker and online gambling in the U.S. But in the last few years, due to a major U.S. Supreme Court decision, the States have been allowed to legalize online sports gambling. Companies like DraftKings, FanDuel, Fox.Bet, Skillz and others have benefited from this trend.

Today another company expanded into sports gambling, when FuboTV, the live sports streaming platform, announced its intent to acquire sports betting tech company Vigtory. In the official press releaseit was indicated that FuboTV “expects to launch a sportsbook before the end of the year.” As a major sports media outlet, Fubo will be well positioned to promote their own sports betting product.

Forbes.com contributor, Beth Kindig, wrote a foresightful articlein December where she highlighted the attractive nature of FuboTV’s stock and wrote about the likelihood of Fubo moving into sports gambling. The stock has more than doubled since then.

Fubo’s press release said, “We believe online sports wagering is a highly complementary business to our sports-first live TV streaming platform”

Vigtory was founded in 2019 by Sam Rattner and backed by SeventySix Capital. Rattner is a well-regarded digital sports entrepreneur and SeventySix Capital is a successful investment firm with deep interests in sports and related fields.

Fubo shared more of their product plans in their press release:

“Additionally, FuboTV announced today more details of its online wagering strategy, further positioning itself to enter what Zion Market Research estimates will become a $155 billion industry by 2024. Through its December 2020 acquisition of Balto Sports and its content automation software, FuboTV intends to launch a free to play gaming experience this summer. Free to play gaming, which will be available to all consumers whether or not they are FuboTV subscribers, will first launch in a standalone app and later be integrated directly into the FuboTV user experience. By leveraging the Vigtory and Balto acquisitions, FuboTV intends to launch a sportsbook app where consumers can see current betting lines, place a variety of wagers, cash in their winnings and much more across sports they love. Finally, the company expects to integrate the sportsbook into FuboTV’s live TV streaming platform for a seamless viewing and wagering experience.”

FuboTV recently shared preliminary Q4 2020 results, indicating it will exceed 545,000 paid subscribers in 2020, a 72% increase year-over-year.