In the past year, Disney CEO Bob Iger has spoken on many occasions about Disney’s plans to launch a new direct-to-consumer streaming service for ESPN, which would offer everything available on the traditional linear channel and more.  While Disney already operates ESPN+, it doesn’t include most of the content from ESPN due to existing contracts. 

Recently, Bob Iger revealed he was in talks with other companies for a strategic partner for ESPN, which included speaking with other sporting leagues like the NFL, NHL, and NBA.

However, today, CNBC has reported that all of those plans look to have changed, as Disney’s ESPN will be joining forces with Fox and Warner Brothers Discovery to offer a brand new joint sports streaming service in the United States in the Fall.  This would combine TNT Sports, ESPN and Fox Sports coverage into one place on a non-exclusive basis.  Giving them access to most of the coverage for the NHL and NBA games, plus some of the NFL games.

The platform brings together the companies’ portfolios of sports networks, certain direct-to-consumer (DTC) sports services and sports rights – including content from all the major professional sports leagues and college sports. The formation of the pay service is subject to the negotiation of definitive 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, including with Disney+, Hulu and/or Max.

The platform would aggregate content to offer fans an extensive, dynamic lineup of sports content, aiming to provide a new and differentiated experience to serve sports fans, particularly those outside of the traditional pay TV bundle.

By subscribing to this focused, all-in-one premier sports service, fans would have access to the linear sports networks including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as ESPN+.

The new streaming service doesn’t have a name, nor a price.  A new management team would be running the joint venture.  Expect more details on this new venture to come soon.  Each company would own one-third of the streaming service.

With sports media rights continuing to increase, operating lots of smaller streaming services isn’t cost-effective, nor does it allow each studio to compete with competitors like Apple, Netflix or Amazon, who are also picking up sports rights.

Warner Brothers Discovery is currently set to launch a new paid add-on tier to Max called Bleacher Reporter, though it is currently available for free, so these plans could potentially change in the future. 

Disney CEO Bob Iger, said in a statement regarding the new streaming service:

“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. I’m grateful to Jimmy Pitaro and the team at ESPN, who are at the forefront of innovating on behalf of consumers to create new offerings with more choice and greater value.”

Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox Corp added:

“We’re pumped to bring the FOX Sports portfolio to this new and exciting platform. We believe the service will provide passionate fans outside of the traditional bundle an array of amazing sports content all in one place.”

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.”

The new service will showcase thousands of high-profile sporting events including:

What do you think of this major change in sports strategy?  Let us know on social media!

For the latest Disney+ news, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

Related Article