ESPN, Fox, WBD To Start Sports Streaming Service

Looking to hit a home run for streaming, three major media companies -- Walt Disney’s ESPN, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery -- will create a blockbuster new sports streaming service, according to an announcement from the companies involved.

The yet-to-be-named service and management team will give a one-third equity partnership of the joint venture to each.

The service, which will be launched in the fall of this year, would develop, launch and operate a streaming sports bundle of linear networks and certain direct-to-consumer (D2C) sports content and services. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

The streamer would be offered as a new stand-alone app. Subscribers could also bundle the product with Disney+, Hulu and/or Max.

The platform would put big current sports franchises under one roof: NFL (ESPN and Fox); NBA (TNT and ESPN); Major League Baseball (ESPN, TNT and Fox); college football, golf, soccer, cycling, and other sports content. The streamer would exist separate from the companies' current TV network deals.



“What sports fans want is one place to get all their content,” says Michael Nathanson, senior managing director of MoffettNathanson Research, speaking on CNBC on Tuesday. “We have been saying this forever: The [linear TV bundle] is all about sports.”

Nathanson says this has been spurred by Paramount Global and Comcast Corp., which have been allowed to shift some of their linear TV rights to their streaming services -- Paramount+ and Peacock. This has been the case for NFL football in particular.

Nathanson says that the more this happens, “the weaker the [linear] bundle gets” -- and that hurts all linear TV-network based companies.

Sports viewers would have access to the linear sports networks including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS and truTV, as well as ESPN+.

Other sports in the proposed streaming service would include WNBA, NHL, NASCAR, UFC, Grand Slam Tennis, and the FIFA World Cup.

The belief is that once consumers have a big sports TV streamer giving them virtually all the sports they want, they can add other individual streaming services -- entertainment or otherwise -- a la carte.

After-market trading on Tuesday witnessed Walt Disney stock down 1.3% to $98.00, while Warner Bros. Discovery was up 3.3% to $10.40 and Fox Corp. was 2.2% higher to $29.99.

This story has been updated.

3 comments about "ESPN, Fox, WBD To Start Sports Streaming Service".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 7, 2024 at 11:23 a.m.

    Wayne, according to a report by "Variety",the asking price for this new bundle will be somewhere between $40 and $80 per month----let's say about $50 as a guess. That's a pretty stiff price and calls into question how many people are avid TV sports buffs for all kinds of sports as opposed to individual sports on a more selective basis. For example if I'm an NBA fan but I'm not into baseball , golf, etc. will I pay $50 per month for an extended period when my main interest is basketball?

    There is an implied assumption underlying this venture that there are a lot of folks out there who are fans of sports in general---any sport will do---or, failing that, they are dedicated fans of football, baseball and basketball---"the big three" as it were in pro team sports. I wonder how many people fall into these assumed groupings and even if so inclined, how many will pay what is demanded to get their daily---or weekly---or monthly?---TV sports "fix".

  2. Eric Fischer from HJA Strategic Consulting, February 7, 2024 at 1:42 p.m.

    In Ed's example, NBA fans would also consider an NBA League Pass subsciption which is far less than the range of pricing for this bundle.

    Also, not mentioned in any news is any agreement with each league's player's union.  With DIS, FOX and WBD in business together, is there a chance it will help tamp down on future media rights negotiations?  If so, that would have a negative effect on NFL, NBA and NHL players whos CBA calls for fixed percentages of all business related income.

  3. Ben B from Retired replied, February 7, 2024 at 8:01 p.m.

    As I thought that this package would be in that $40 to $80 range as the few RSN that are streaming the local teams will cost between $20 to $30 dollars. That's why I prefer the bundle with the entertainment along with the sports. You'll get those that will say take my money no matter what I think those that just like one sport will just get MLB Extra Inngs, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice etc.

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