In a big move for live television, three of the biggest media companies are teaming up on a joint venture that will provide access to every major league sport and many more.
Disney espnand Fox Corp.'s Fox Sports and Warner Bros.' TNT and TBS networks. Discovery will offer a comprehensive package this fall that includes NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL games. You won't be able to watch every game, but it's an attractive package for cable cord-cutters who are sports fans.
Each company will own a third of the service, which does not yet have a name, pricing information or launch date, and is subject to final agreements. But it's further recognition of the splitting of the cable bundle as more consumers gravitate to streaming. NFL games consistently top the Nielsen ratings, and for several years, professional sports has led other live programming as key to sustaining the cable TV ecosystem, which has lost more than 25% of its subscriber base over the past several years.
The new service will also have a dedicated management team separate from its owners, the two companies said in a statement.
Analyst Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson called the deal “the streaming package we've been waiting for” and said in a report on Tuesday that it represents “the ultimate play to take ownership of their sporting destinies, and shed their dependence on their current distribution system.” “.
“The launch of this new sports streaming service is an important moment for Disney and ESPN, a huge win for sports fans, and an important step forward for the media industry,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. It plans to create a standalone ESPN streaming service (current ESPN+ lacks streaming rights to major sports), and the new agreement doesn't appear to prevent it from doing so in the future.
“We are excited to bring the Fox Sports portfolio to this exciting new platform,” Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement. “We believe the service will provide passionate fans beyond the traditional package a range of amazing sports content all in one place.”
YouTube already offers the NFL's Sunday Ticket package, which streams out-of-market games to YouTube live TV subscribers for an additional $200 per season, depending on discounts. But subscribers cannot watch their local teams.
What sports are included in the new sports streaming service?
In addition to the Big 4 – NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL – the service will include NASCAR auto racing, UFC, PGA Tour Golf, Grand Slam Tennis, the FIFA World Cup, numerous college sports and more.
What channels will be shown in the sports broadcasting service?
Subscribers will have access to all broadcast and cable channels owned by each of the companies that offer sports: for Disney, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS and ABC. For Fox Corp. and Fox, FS1, FS2 and the Big 10 Network. And for Warner Bros. Discovery, TNT, TBS and truTV. Disney's ESPN+, an independent streaming service with 26 million subscribers, will also be part of the new entity, though it lacks the streaming rights to major sports and is often combined with Disney+ and Hulu. Not included: Paramount Global's CBS Sports, which carries most NFL AFC conference games, and Comcast, whose NBC network airs “Sunday Night Football” and has the No. 2 cable system. Both already broadcast their NFL games on Paramount+ and Peacock, respectively, while new joint venture partners do not.
How much will the streaming service cost?
The companies did not announce any pricing plans, but said the new service will be offered in bundles with existing streaming services they own, including Max, Disney+ and Hulu. Fox does not currently have a subscription-based service.
Will the new service contain commercials?
naturally! Advertising revenue, along with subscription income, is key to securing profits as sports rights ramp up. Other streaming companies that carry sports, such as Amazon Prime (“Thursday Night Football”) and Apple TV+ (Friday Night MLB and Major League Soccer games) have included commercials even when the rest of their programming does not.
Will cable TV systems suffer?
certainly. The ability to stream major sporting events, all in one place, demolishes one of the last major pillars of cable, removing one of the last reasons to pay hefty monthly fees to buy a bundle of channels that many subscribers don't watch. But the growing number of streaming services can also approach the cost of cable when purchased separately.
You'll still need a cable or broadcast antenna to watch news coverage, local stations, syndicated programming, and some entertainment programming like award shows that aren't broadcast live.
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