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Media Giants ESPN, FOX and Warner Bros. Discovery announce groundbreaking sports streaming service



Logos for media companies ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery

In a Tuesday night announcement that’s set to revolutionize sports broadcasting, ESPN, FOX, and Warner Bros. Discovery unveiled plans for a new joint venture—a new streaming platform designed to consolidate their sports offerings. The three media companies currently have a principal agreement for the JV and plan to launch the service this fall. This new sports streaming service will integrate their individual sports networks, select direct-to-consumer offerings, and coveted sports rights, effectively challenging the traditional cable TV model.

Subscribers will not only enjoy access to a comprehensive suite of sports content but will also have the option to bundle this new service with Disney+, Hulu, and/or Max, as indicated in the press release.

The upcoming app will be a sports fan’s dream, featuring ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPN News, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS, TruTV, and ESPN+. Previously accessible only through cable subscriptions, these networks will now be available to a wider audience as they will now be offered direct to consumer, marking a significant shift toward accommodating cord-cutters and digital-first consumers.

While stunning in its own way, it was back in August 2023 when The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, which ESPN is a subsidiary of, said in an interview they were looking for minority partners for the worldwide leader in sports network. In fact in this CNBC article that talks about him wanting to make a deal, it goes to say that Iger was already in talks with the NFL, MLB and the NBA about taking the network direct to consumers. Just a few weeks ago the New York Post reported that in fact ESPN was in advance talks with the NFL. Even going into detail of what that potential agreement would include ESPN taking control of NFL Media. Both articles state that the plan was to be able to go DTC by 2025.

This new partnership represents a strategic pivot for the three media titans, historically competitors for media rights. Each will hold an equal one-third stake in the venture, providing exclusive licenses for their sports content. The service is set to operate under a new brand and will be guided by its own management team.

While the breadth of this new streaming service spans across an array of sports, it holds particular excitement for soccer fans. This venture is set to carry an impressive portfolio of soccer content, including major international competitions like the World Cup and local college matches. If you follow college soccer you can expect matches from Temple, La Salle and St. Joes will be carried on this service. This is because there is already a deal with ESPN+ for both the American and Atlantic 10 conferences. The American Athletic conferences signed a 12-year deal with the sports network in 2019. The A10 just announced in December it was renewing its media rights with ESPN for another 5 years, taking their deal with ESPN+ until the 2028-2029 season.

Here’s a detailed look at the extensive array of sports rights that will be featured:

  • Pro Football: NFL, UFL
  • Basketball: NBA, WNBA
  • Baseball: MLB
  • Hockey: NHL
  • College Sports: Games across two dozen conferences, 40 NCAA Championship events, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, and the College Football Playoff
  • Golf: PGA Tour, PGA Championship, The Masters, TGL
  • Tennis: Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open
  • Cycling: Giro d’Italia, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Giro Donne
  • Soccer: FIFA World Cup, U.S. Soccer, NWSL, MLS, LaLiga, Bundesliga, UEFA, CONCACAF
  • Combat Sports: UFC, Top Rank
  • Auto Racing: Formula 1, NASCAR, 24 Hours of Le Mans

Stay tuned for more updates, including service pricing and additional features, which are to be announced. We can expect to hear more about the new venture Wednesday, February 7th, as Disney is set to host its earnings call.

Sean Sullivan is an Associate Editor for Philadelphia Soccer Now/Brotherly Game, where he has spent the past few years covering game day events for the Philadelphia Union. In his day job, he oversees creative and studio production for a corporate event streaming company based in the Philadelphia region.

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