ESPN, FOX & Warner Bros unite to launch new sports streaming service

credit: Shutterstock
credit: Shutterstock

In an unprecedented move, ESPN, FOX and Warner Bros Discovery are joint-launching a new over-the-top (OTT) sports streaming platform in the fall of 2024.  

The joint venture will see ESPN, FOX and Warner Bro Discovery’s range of sports networks, direct-to-consumer (DTC) services and sports rights form under one roof onto an all-in-one dedicated sports streaming platform. 

Sports league content from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, as well as coverage from the FIFA World Cup, golf, tennis and college sports will be available on the new dedicated OTT platform. 

Content from the three companies’ sports networks channels, such as ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+, ESPNNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, TNT and TBS will be available. 

The streaming service will be owned by a newly formed company – yet to be named – in which each company will own a third of, with equal board representation, licensing their sports content to the joint venture on a non-exclusive basis. The formation of the pay service is subject to the negotiation of agreements amongst the parties. 

The offering, scheduled to launch in the fall of 2024, would be made available directly to consumers via a new app. Subscribers would also have the ability to bundle the product, with platforms such as Disney+, Hulu and/or HBO Max.

David Zaslav, Chief Executive Officer of Warner Bros. Discovery, 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.”

CNBC reported that a starting price point for a monthly subscription to the new sports streaming platform would be between $40-50 and if promotional offers were to be added, this figure could fall to $30-per-month. 

Through a press statement, the three companies confirmed that more details, including pricing, will be announced at a later date. 

The move from the three sports networks comes at a time when the value of sports media rights has skyrocketed over the last several years. The addition of dedicated streaming services such as Netflix, Apple TV and Amazon Prime’s interest in live sports coverage has only fuelled the growth of the value of these broadcast rights. 

CNBC also reported that despite the joint venture with FOX and Warner Bros Discovery, ESPN will still continue to launch its own DTC service in 2025. 

Last month, ESPN held “advanced talks” with the NFL over an equity share in its proposed DTC platform, which would see NFL media content, such as the NFL Network and NFL Media Services migrate to the new service. 

Bob Iger, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, commented on the joint venture with FOX and Warner Bros, stating: “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.”

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