Walt Disney’s ESPN, FOX, and Warner Bros. Discovery on Tuesday said they were forming a joint venture to create a new sports-centric streaming service that would bundle together the three media giant’s content.
The joint venture will have its own leadership, and the three companies will each one a one-third stake in the business, which hasn’t gotten off the ground. But the streaming service will bundle together their cable channels like ESPN, FOX, Fox Sports, TNT, and TBS, as well as select other streaming content.
Because the joint venture just formed, there is no pricing information on the service, but they plan on launching it in the fall of 2024. The companies said it would be offered through a new standalone app “built from the ground up.”
Depending on the price, such a bundle could be a dream come true for sports fan. The package seemingly has access to a vast amount of sports from every major league, from the NFL to the NBA. The deal comes as more streaming services, from YouTube TV to Amazon and Apple TV, are turning to live sports to win over new subscribers.
The package looks similar to so-called “skinny bundles” that some cable operators have offered that only have a limited number of channels geared towards a specific topic like comedy or entertainment. In this case, the bundle will be delivered via streaming and through an app.
The announcement is a surprising wrinkle given Disney was already working on its own standalone streaming service centered on its ESPN cable network. It’s unclear if this JV replaces that service, or if it remains its own initiative.
“The launch of this new streaming sports service is a significant moment for Disney and ESPN, a major win for sports fans, and an important step forward for the media business,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “This means the full suite of ESPN channels will be available to consumers alongside the sports programming of other industry leaders as part of a differentiated sports-centric service.”
It’s also a bit of a turnabout for FOX, which has long talked about the value of keeping network content on traditional models like cable TV, because the revenue from streaming still isn’t there. Apparently, the addition of Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney changed things enough for it to reconsider.
“We’re pumped to bring the FOX Sports portfolio to this new and exciting platform. We believe the service will provide passionate fans outside of the traditional bundle an array of amazing sports content all in one place,” said FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch.
Warner Bros. Discovery had already put its own sports content on its Max services through the B/R Sports add-on, which continues to be free thanks to a technical issue.
“At WBD, our ambition is always to connect our leading content and brands with as many viewers as possible, and this exciting joint venture and the unparalleled combination of marquee sports rights and access to the greatest sporting events in the world allows us to do just that,” said Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.
The bundling of cable channels could potentially be a big blow to cable and satellite TV providers, who largely depend on their broadcast of sports and networks like ESPN to keep their subscribers loyal. It’s unclear what the impact will be if consumers will be able to subscribe directly from the joint venture to meet virtually all of their sports needs.
Spokesman for Comcast and Charter weren’t available to comment on the news.
Missing from this lineup are Paramount, whose CBS is broadcasting the Super Bowl on Sunday, as well as Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Peacock.
This isn’t the first major streaming joint venture, with Hulu jointly owned by Comcast and Disney before Disney took full control last year.
Here’s a list of the channels that you would be getting:
Here’s a list of what will be available on the service:
|NFL | UFL
|NBA | WNBA
|Thousands of games and events, multiple sports, across nearly two dozen conferences, including:ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, SEC | 40 NCAA Championship Events |NCAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball Tournaments |The College Football Playoff
|PGA Tour | PGA Championship | The Masters | TGL
|Grand Slam Tennis
|Wimbledon | US Open | Australian Open
|Giro d’Italia | UCI Mountain Bike World Cup | Giro Donne
|FIFA World Cup | U.S. SoccerNWSL | MLS | LALIGA | Bundesliga | UEFA | CONCACAF
|UFC | Top Rank
|Formula 1 | NASCAR | 24 Hours of Le Mans