New Legacy TV Sports Streaming: Digital-First Media Waiting To Pounce?

Three major media companies are banding together to form a new streaming business to protect their core programming block -- sports.

But what if three major digital-first media companies -- say Amazon, Apple, Google -- did the same thing in a different kind of streaming system, for future sports acquisitions?

Those companies have massive financial resources -- much more than Walt Disney's ESPN, Fox Corp., and Warner Bros. Discovery.

In addition, Amazon, Apple, and Google -- and perhaps Netflix, if it has a change of heart when it comes to traditional live sports programming -- could each handle a similar wide-scale streaming sports operation by themselves.



TV Watch brings up this point as Fubo TV -- which has seen its stock hit hard on this news -- faces possible alleged antitrust concerns. Its statement reads: “Every consumer in America should be concerned about the intent behind this joint venture and its impact on fair market competition.” 

Fubo TV -- as well as some business analysts -- have also questioned the overall viability of joint ventures. On that last point, one only needs to consider Hulu's history, which also started out with three major media companies as joint-equity partners.

How has it performed? Although its performance has been bumpy, it survived as a new business in an upstart, growing industry with no financial precedent.

On the flip side, local TV station groups believe this new streaming sports venture would be good news for their appearance as well as marketing efforts.

When it comes to Disney-ABC and Fox, NFL games are carried on those network TV station affiliates.

A Gray Television statement about the sports streaming app says this “could be a significant opportunity to expand the pay-TV ecosystem.... We believe that including ABC and Fox stations in a new virtual multichannel video programming service could offer benefits to viewers, their local communities, and local broadcasters.”

So the move improves the pay TV system -- traditional, virtually and otherwise?

Charter's ground-breaking deal with Walt Disney -- which allows the pay TV provider to distribute Disney+, ESPN+ and forthcoming full ESPN cable TV network streaming services -- adds to this expansion of sorts.

Consumers want some sort of bundle: something where they can turn on their TV sets and have easy access -- at a good price -- to sports and other content.

More importantly, they want some comfort with what they have been familiar with.

The move for legacy TV-based media companies, with streaming, may be putting their collective feet in the sand, as digital-media companies are already testing the waters with some sports rights -- “Thursday Night Football” (Prime Video), Major League Soccer (Apple TV+), YouTube (NFL Sunday Ticket).

Digital-first media may look to do much more -- perhaps setting up their own easy-access streaming system.

What’s the play after that?

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