Charter CEO Isn’t Convinced Fox-Disney-Warner Bros. Discovery Bundle ‘Scratches the Itch’ for Sports Fans

Charter Communications CEO Chris Winfrey expressed skepticism about Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery’s joint sports streaming venture on Wednesday when asked to weigh in on the offering.

“From what I hear, whether it’s 60, 65, 70 percent of the sports content, I’m not sure it really scratches the itch for a sports fanatic, or that a sports fanatic has no interest in news or entertainment,” Winfrey said at Morgan Stanley’s 2024 Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.

The unnamed service, which is expected to launch this fall, will offer access to content from linear sports networks, including ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as the ABC network. Content will include the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, College Sports, UFC, PGA TOUR Golf, Grand Slam Tennis, the FIFA World Cup, cycling and much more. Subscribers would also have the option to bundle the product with Disney+, Hulu and Max.

While many details remain unclear, such as how much the combined app will ultimately cost, Winfrey’s takeaway from the announcement is that the media giants have confirmed the cable giant’s long-held belief: “Genre-based packaging is the way to go.”

“When I look at that from a distributor standpoint, I actually agree with that. Distributors have been saying that for a couple of decades now that we’d like to have the ability to do genre-based packaging,” he continued. “So if you step back, it’s an admission for the programmers that that is the right way to go, together with a la carte, which was also something you thought you would never see. And I fully expect that we’ll have the ability to distribute content in a similar fashion.”

Winfrey’s comments come as Fubo and the trade organization ACA Connects have both raised concerns about the joint venture promoting anticompetitive behavior. The former has sued to block the venture, while the Department of Justice is reportedly planning to launch its own antitrust review.

Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch said earlier this week that he is not “overly concerned” about the partnership from a regulatory perspective.

“The top 50% of households are served incredibly well. But there’s 50% of households at the bottom that aren’t served at all, and I just don’t believe that they’re not sports fans, or there aren’t a lot of sports fans in that cohort. So we want to serve that part of the market that is not served today,” he said. “There’s no competition in that market today and we want to do it in a very pro-consumer, consumer first manner. So for all those reasons, I’m not overly concerned about the environment.”

According to Murdoch, the joint venture is targeting 5 million subscribers within the first five years of its launch.

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