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Fox, Disney, and WBD to launch joint-venture sports streaming service

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This collaboration will change the dynamics of sports streaming in the US

Three of the United States' media powerhouses - Fox Corp, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) - have announced a groundbreaking collaboration. They are set to launch a joint-venture streaming service that will amalgamate their respective sports offerings into one over-the-top (OTT) service.

The yet-to-be-named service will merge the sports content from Fox’s Fox Sports channels, Disney’s ESPN channels, and WBD-owned TNT Sport among other offerings. This means that fans can access diverse sports content from all these networks in one place.

Bob Iger, Disney Corporation chief executive, said:

“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. 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 platform will have almost every major offering for fans

Once active, this platform will broadcast offerings from all major US properties including, American football's NFL, Baseball's MLB, Basketball's NBA and WNBA, Ice hockey's NHL, Soccer's MLS, and Motor racing's NASCAR.

Moreover, high-profile sports events like Golf’s PGA Tour, mixed martial arts promotion UFC, and soccer’s FIFA World Cup matches will also be included in the package.

The three companies have agreed to license their sports content on a non-exclusive basis to this new service while maintaining their linear output streams. This ensures that they continue offering their individual services alongside this combined platform. Scheduled for launch in Autumn 2024, each of the three partners holds an equal stake in the venture with equal representation on its board.

Traditional cable TV services' future is under clouds

This announcement could potentially deal a significant blow to traditional cable TV services in the US as it offers viewers an alternative way of accessing diverse sporting content without multiple subscriptions or packages.

According to GlobalData’s ‘United States Pay-TV Forecast’ report total US pay-TV household penetration has seen a significant drop since 2009 when it exceeded 85%. The report predicts further decline with penetration expected to fall to around 32% in 2028.

WBD chief executive, David Zaslav, said:

“At WBD, our ambition is always to connect our leading content and brands with as many viewers as possible, and this exciting joint venture and the unparalleled combination of marquee sports rights and access to the greatest sporting events in the world allows us to do just that.”

“This new sports service exemplifies our ability as an industry to drive innovation and provide consumers with more choice, enjoyment, and value and we’re thrilled to deliver it to sports fans.”

The firms have stated that details such as pricing and format will be revealed closer to the product’s launch. This joint venture represents a significant shift in the sports broadcasting landscape, offering fans a unified platform for diverse sports content. It also signifies how media giants are adapting their strategies in response to changing viewer habits and preferences.

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