Fox Corp., Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney are teaming up to launch a new sports streaming joint venture that will put ESPN, TNT and Fox Sports on a standalone app.
The service will be launched in the fall, with each media giant owning one-third of the company, having equal board representation and licensing their sports content to the joint venture on a non-exclusive basis. The venture will have its own independent management team.
The offering will provide subscribers with 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.
Pricing details and a name for the service will be disclosed at a later date, though an individual familiar with the matter told TheWrap that the price point would be cheaper than YouTube TV, which charges $72.99 per month for its basic plan. CNBC reported a logical starting point could be $45-$50 per month.
Despite the one-third ownership stake for each company, the individual emphasized that the networks will not share revenue from the venture equally, with the companies expected to earn a similar carriage fee rate as they do through other distribution channels where their networks available.
The formation of the pay service is subject to “the negotiation of definitive agreements amongst the parties,” the companies noted in their press release.
The potentially game-changing collaboration comes at a time when linear TV is bleeding subscribers and sports rights costs are increasing, as live sports shift towards a streaming future.
Disney CEO Bob Iger, who called the joint venture a “significant moment for Disney and ESPN, a major win for sports fans, and an important step forward for the media business,” has separately been searching for strategic partners to help with content and distribution for a fully direct-to-consumer version of ESPN, which is targeting a launch in 2025.
WBD CEO David Zaslav, who said the service “exemplifies our ability as an industry to drive innovation and provide consumers with more choice, enjoyment and value,” is also preparing to launch a paid version of Bleacher Report Sports’ add-on tier on Max, which has been delayed due to its tech integration process.
Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch added that the partnership will “provide passionate fans outside of the traditional bundle an array of amazing sports content all in one place.”
During Fox’s first quarter earnings call in November, Murdoch touted college football’s popularity on Fox sports, citing strong demand from advertisers. But he also noted that the company did not “envisage any kind of significant live sports on Tubi in the near or frankly median perhaps even long-term future,” emphasizing its focus on entertainment.
Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery shares climbed 3.5% and 2.8% in after-hours trading Tuesday following the announcement, while Disney shares slipped 1%
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