FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch said he believes the new sports mega bundle created alongside Disney’s ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery will allow the company to tap into a market of “cord nevers,” which he said was as large as 60 million households.
At the same time, he also downplayed the risk that this would accelerate the trend of cord cutting.
“We’re very confident this is a large market and large opportunity we can address without undermining the traditional pay-TV bundle,” Murdoch said on a conference call with investors on Wednesday to discuss its fiscal second-quarter results.
FOX, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery shocked the world yesterday when it announced plans to form a joint venture to deliver a new sports streaming service, effectively a so-called skinny bundle of 14 of their channels combined into one package. This package, which goes around the traditional cable bundle, immediately had many wondering if this would speed the death of pay-TV.
Indeed, live sports remains one of the key advantages of cable TV, even as streaming services begin chipping away with deals like Amazon’s Thursday Night Football or YouTube TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. Having a central location where sports fans can go outside of the cable bundle to get a vast majority of NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA games doesn’t bode well for the struggling pay-TV companies. That’s especially the case given the cable industry continues to bleed customers quarter after. Comcast and Spectrum alone lost more than 3 million TV subscribers in 2023.
Murdoch was asked why he was so confident that this wouldn’t harm cable, and the CEO offered few details.
“We would not be launching this product if it were going to significantly affect our pay tv affiliate partners,” he said. “We remain the biggest supporter of the traditional pay tv bundle.”
He added that the joint venture would target households that don’t have a cable bundle, or a little less than half of the 125 million U.S. households.
But that doesn’t mean the other half of those households won’t be eyeing this package with one foot out of the cable TV door.