ESPN, Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery to launch joint sports streaming service this year

Consumers will be able to subscribe through an app, while having option to combine the service with Disney+, Hulu, and Max streaming platforms
An undated image displaying ESPN+ UI. — Unsplash
An undated image displaying ESPN+ UI. — Unsplash

ESPN, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery, have disclosed their plans to launch a joint sports streaming service this year in a bid to ensure the establishment of a new platform, simplifying users' access to marquee live sports for the first time.

The joint platform will be overseen by a separate entity with a separate leadership. While details regarding its name and incurring costs have not been disclosed yet, all the stakeholders, Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery, will possess one-third stake of the upcoming platform.

Consumers will have the option to subscribe through a new app, while having the opportunity to combine the product with Disney+, Hulu, and Max streaming platforms. 

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The product will offer a selection of linear networks specifically designed for sports enthusiasts, including all the sports-related broadcast and cable networks owned by Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery, along with ESPN+, as reported by CNBC

From Disney, this encompasses ESPN and its affiliated networks like ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, as well as the ABC broadcast network. Warner Bros. Discovery’s sports networks include TNT, TBS, and TruTV. Fox will feature the Fox broadcast station along with FS1, FS2, and BTN. 

“The launch of this new streaming sports service is a significant moment for Disney and ESPN, a major win for sports fans, and an important step forward for the media business,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “This means the full suite of ESPN channels will be available to consumers alongside the sports programming of other industry leaders as part of a differentiated sports-centric service.” 

The primary goal of the companies is to make the platform the main choice for sports programming. Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Fox will each have a one-third ownership stake in the company, and the revenue sharing from rights fees will be in proportion to the fees charged by cable networks to pay TV providers. 

The introduction of the product will not prevent ESPN from offering a complete direct-to-consumer streaming product, which Disney is still researching and plans to launch by 2025. 

The competitors plan to create the joint service at a time when the value of sports media rights is increasing and viewers are shifting away from traditional cable viewing, even though ratings for the National Football League and National Basketball Association (NBA) have increased. 

“While we look forward to learning more about this new venture, we’re encouraged by the opportunity to make premier sports content more accessible to fans who are not subscribers to the traditional cable or satellite bundle,” an NBA spokesperson said.