ESPN, Warner Bros., and Fox will launch a new streaming service for sports. It's set to launch this fall, but we still don't know how much it will cost. It's a huge deal and could change everything about TV.
By: Illuminate IC Staff Writers
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ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced plans on Tuesday to launch a sports streaming platform in the fall that will include offerings from at least 15 networks and all four major professional sports leagues.
A one-stop app to view most sports should be a welcome sight for fans, who continue to navigate rising costs by subscribing to multiple services.
Kevin Krim, the president and CEO of the ad measurement firm EDO, compared the three companies teaming up for sports like what some networks did when Hulu started in 2008.
"My sense is knowing the cast of characters, they're looking at the original Hulu concept and thinking, 'Well, that worked out really well for us.' So let's do that again. But for live sports streaming," he said.
What it Means
Take all the sports that run on ESPN and ABC. Add all the sports that run on Fox. And all of the sports that run on TNT and TBS.
Now combine them on one streaming service.
That's what's coming this fall, via a new joint venture, co-owned by Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Fox Corp.
We still don't know some important details — including how much this thing is going to cost consumers when it launches.
That said, this is a very big deal: For many people, sports — and specifically, NFL football — are the main reason to watch and pay for conventional TV. Now a huge swath of that will be available as a stand-alone streaming product. If it takes off, it will reorder the TV landscape.
Paramount's CBS and Comcast's NBC are not members of this joint venture, and both of those companies have significant NFL contracts as well as other major sports; CBS, for instance, shares the rights to college basketball's March Madness tournament.
“We’re aware of yesterday’s announcement and are still gathering details to understand this proposed new streaming service,” said NFL spokesman Alex Reithmiller.
The NBA is in negotiations on new rights deals with Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney’s ESPN.
“While we look forward to learning more about this new venture, we’re encouraged by the opportunity to make premier sports content more accessible to fans who are not subscribers to the traditional cable or satellite bundle,” an NBA spokeswoman said.
Given the high financial stakes—networks pay billions of dollars a year for the most valuable sports rights and rely on that programming heavily—the relationships between the two sides are delicate. Some leagues, given the value of their content in today’s fragmented media landscape, often want to be asked to give their blessing on any shift in business strategy.
The Wall Street Journal had the first report of the joint venture.