Earlier this month, Disney and ESPN made a major surprise announcement that it was going to be partnering with Warner Brothers Discovery and Fox to create a brand new compelling streaming sports service in the United States, that would bring together the companies’ portfolios of sports networks, certain direct-to-consumer sports services – including content from all the major professional sports leagues and college sports.

This new streaming service is aimed at “cable nevers” and cord cutters, who want access to sports content from these three major companies. The new streaming service is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2024, and will be 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 announcement caught many off guard, including Fubo TV and the NFL, who aren’t happy with this new partnership since they view it as uncompetitive. Fubo TV put out an announcement stating:

The recent announcement regarding the collaboration between Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery to introduce a sports-only streaming service has undoubtedly captured our attention. Fubo has consistently championed the principle of consumer choice and we’re not surprised more sports streaming options are becoming available. We have already seen that a consortium born of historical competitors is a difficult undertaking, and streaming joint ventures rarely work. As well, we know sports-only programming is highly challenged.

Consumers have demonstrated that they want an aggregated sports, news and entertainment package differentiated by a quality product experience. This is what Fubo delivers. We have also continuously pushed the boundaries of live TV streaming with market-first features like 4K, multi viewing and AI products like our just-launched Instant Headlines.

The underlying motives and implication of this joint venture also command our scrutiny. Every consumer in America should be concerned about the intent behind this joint venture and its impact on fair market competition. This joint venture spotlights a concerning trend where an alliance with significant market share, reportedly controlling 60-85% of all sports content, could dictate market terms in a manner that may not serve the broader interests of consumers.

We believe our robust programming and quality product experience cannot be duplicated by what is likely to emerge from this joint venture.

According to Bloomberg, the new sports streaming service has caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, who are going to be taking a look at this new deal once it has been finalised.

Seth Bloom, an antitrust lawyer with Bloom Strategic Counsel in Washington and former general counsel of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, said:

“I think it obviously raises serious competition issues and antitrust issues when you have the largest players in the online distribution of sports getting together and jointly launching a new service.

The DOJ would likely look at the competitive implications of that and whether other companies that wish to provide this service will be foreclosed from the market.”

The new sports streaming service is going to be a joint venture between the three companies, with each holding a third of the company and it’s also worth pointing out that none of the content available on this new platform will be exclusive.  Everything will still be available on alternative cable and streaming platforms. 

Plus Disney is also still planning on launching its new full version of ESPN as a streaming service in August 2025, which will be incorporated into Disney+, similar to how Hulu On Disney+ will be.

There is a strong possibility that this new sports streaming service could get locked into legal issues to delay the launch later this year, but ultimately, the three studios are looking at alternatives to the traditional cable platform, since more and more people are cutting the cord.   There is also an issue with Disney with regards to its plans for Hulu+Live TV and how that could be impacted by this new platform, since they could be considered pretty similar products.

Do you think this new sports service could be blocked?  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: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

Related Article