Warner Bros. Discovery announced that the company along with ESPN, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and Fox have decided to form a new Joint Venture (JV) to build a streaming sports service.
Each entity would own one-third of the JV, have equal board representation and license their sports content to the joint venture on a non-exclusive basis. The service would have a new brand with an independent management team.
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 including the National Football League, the National Basketball League, Major League Baseball, the FIFA World Cup, and college competitions.
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.
By subscribing to this yet-to-be-named, all-in-one 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+.
Bob Iger, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, said, “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, Executive Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Fox, said, “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.”
More details, including pricing, will be announced at a later date.