ESPN, Fox, Warner Bros to launch joint sports streaming platform

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A FOX Sports TV camera operator during the NFL Week 5 game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.

David J. Griffin | The Sportswire Icon | Getty Images

Walt disneyand ESPN, fox and Warner Bros. found plans to launch a joint sports streaming service this fall, giving consumers a new way to access live marquee sports for the first time, the companies said Tuesday.

The platform, which will be owned by a newly formed company with its own management team, does not yet have a name or price. A third will be shared by Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery.

Users would be able to subscribe directly through a new app. Subscribers would also have the ability to bundle the product with the streaming platforms of the companies Disney +, Hulu and Max.

The result will be a tighter bundle of linear networks than a typical cable offering, designed specifically for sports fans. It will include all broadcast and cable networks owned by Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery has sports, along with ESPN+. Although a price has not been confirmed, a logical starting point could be $45 or $50 per month, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the discussions about the service been private.

From Disney, that includes ESPN and its sister networks, such as ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, as well as the ABC broadcast network. The Warner Bros. networks are Discovery which presents TNT, TBS and TruTV sports. Fox includes the Fox broadcast station along with FS1, FS2 and BTN.

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

The product launch won’t stop ESPN from offering a full direct-to-consumer streaming product, which Disney is still exploring and is still on schedule to debut by 2025, according to a person familiar with the matter. ESPN has previously said it plans to release that product this year or next.

The rivals plan to create the combined service at a time when the value of sports media rights is increasing, but viewers have moved away from watching traditional cable.

Disney, in particular, has suffered from the move away from its ESPN network, and has sought new ways to revive the business, including finding strategic partners such as the National Football League and the National Basketball League.

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