This week gave us a big shocker with Walt Disney’s ESPN, FOX, and Warner Bros. Discovery unveiling plans to form a Voltron-like sports streaming service made up of its different cable and broadcast networks.
It’s an announcement that shook up the industry, raising questions ranging from everything to potential pricing to its impact on the cable TV industry.
Disney had a ton of its own news, including cozying up to Tay Tay herself, Taylor Swift, while YouTube TV disclosed some big numbers.
As always, there was a lot going on in the world of cord cutting. But that’s why The Recap exists, to catch you up on the biggest stories and why you should care about them.
Here’s what you need to know from this past week.
That Sports JV
The new sports JV will ultimately look pretty familiar to cable TV customers. It’s a bundle of 14 channels ranging from ESPN to Fox Sports and local FOX and ABC networks – only it’s delivered via an app and the internet. Between the three companies, you’ll have every major sports league covered, and then some.
But it’s already stirred up some controversy. While Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger and FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch say they don’t believe this will hurt the cable companies, it’s clearly not good news for an industry already bleeding customers.
There still remains a lot of questions, particularly with pricing. Reports say it’ll cost more than $30, and presumably closer to the $50 mark after promotions, but no pricing has been set.
The service is set to launch in fall, but the three companies still have to figure out a lot before this becomes a reality.
More Disney News
The JV wasn’t the only thing Disney had to offer. Iger offered a flood of news to kick off the company’s fiscal first-quarter earnings conference call. He confirmed the ESPN standalone app would launch around August 2025, and would be separate from the other combined effort.
Lost in the noise was more details about Disney’s password sharing crackdown, which is looking a lot like a replay of Netflix’s tactics. The company will start alerting accounts with heavy sharing over the summer, and give them a chance to add those extra users on for a fee.
It’s a move that has yielded a wealth of new subscribers for Netflix. But are people loyal enough to Disney+ to pay the extra fees?
Taylor Swift’s Big Pay Day
Iger also announced that Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour would be coming to Disney+ on March 15 as an exclusive.
That coup reportedly cost Disney a pretty penny, with the media giant paying Swift $75 million for the streaming rights. That’s the same amount that Disney paid for the streaming rights to Hamilton, although the film didn’t stay on the platform for long.
In addition, he teased that a sequel to animated hit Moana was coming out, with a surprise release date of later this year.
Iger was likely jamming in the good headlines since it’s still fighting a shareholder revolt from not one, but two different activist investors. He was already fending off an attempt by Trian Management when Blackwells Capital offered its own nominees for the board. Blackwells’ filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission has an even wilder idea of breaking up the company, including creating a separate business just to deal with its massive real estate holdings.
YouTube TV Shares Some Deets
YouTube TV finally shared how large it is, with YouTube CEO Neal Mohan disclosing that the service now has 8 million subscribers, which makes it the largest live-streaming provider in the nation.
This comes on top of the 100 million subscribers it has for YouTube Premium and Music, although that’s a global number.
It’s a sign that Google has grown beyond its reputation of a purveyor of free services subsidized by ads. Think Gmail, Google Docs, and even YouTube itself. Regular people – and lots of them – are now willing to pay Google for services – something unheard of when it got started with its services.
The CW’s New Free Live Streaming Service
The CW quietly launched a free live streaming service on its site, Cord Cutters News was the first to report. The service appeared under the “Channels” section of the site (it’s also available on its Roku app) and offers just a dozen channels, including ION and Mystery Science Theater 3000.
It’s still in beta, which is why The CW hasn’t talked about it, and it’s likely that the lineup of channels will expand fairly shortly.
The CW is just the latest company to jump into the world of free, ad-supported live streaming video, with seemingly everyone offering their own version.