A Joint Venture Has Cable Companies Sweating

In a move that is set to shake up the world of TV sports, Fox Corp., Warner Bros. Discovery, and Disney have announced plans to launch a new streaming joint venture in the fall. This new service will bring all of their sports programming under one roof, allowing subscribers to access content from top networks such as ESPN, TNT, and Fox Sports in one standalone app.

The new venture, which is currently unnamed, will be jointly owned by the three media giants and will offer subscribers access to a wide range of linear sports networks, including ESPN2, ESPNews, Fox, FS1, FS2, TNT, TBS, and more. In addition, the service will also feature hundreds of hours of live sports from top sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL, as well as college divisions.

One of the motivations behind this collaboration is the increasing trend of cable subscribers cutting the cord and moving to streaming platforms. By launching this new venture, Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery hope to gain back some of the lost affiliate fees from traditional cable providers. In addition, the companies will also earn revenue by licensing their sports content to the service.

This new venture is said to be a game-changer as it will bring together the majority of top sports rights under one roof. With ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery holding most rights to the NHL and NBA, and Fox, WBD, and ESPN controlling a majority of rights to Major League Baseball, the only major sports league without a large presence on the service will be the NFL.

Despite some speculation, the new venture will not compete with its parent companies for rights deals. It will also not create its own content, and will solely serve as a distribution partner for the three media giants. In addition, discussions about launching a standalone ESPN direct-to-consumer product are ongoing, independent of this joint venture.

The launch of this streaming service is a significant move for Fox, which has previously resisted putting its sports programming on streaming platforms. It is also a major step for Warner Bros. Discovery, which plans to launch an add-on pay tier for sports on its Max streaming service under the Bleacher Report brand.

Disney CEO Bob Iger, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch, and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav have all expressed their excitement for this new venture, stating that it will provide sports fans with more choice, enjoyment, and value. The companies did not reach out to other potential partners, as they collectively control approximately 85% of the U.S. sports rights market and did not want to make the structure unwieldy or drive up subscription prices.

The announcement of this joint venture comes at a time when traditional media companies are facing the reality of sports moving to streaming venues. With this new service, the three media giants are demonstrating their ability to drive innovation and provide consumers with a new and improved way to access their favorite sports content. Fans will have to wait until the fall to see if this new venture truly lives up to its potential as a game-changer in the world of TV sports.



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