Get ready for yet another streaming service — this one tailored for sports fans. Fox Corp., ESPN, and Warner Bros. Discovery today announced plans for “an innovative new platform to house a compelling streaming sports service,” according to a press release from the three companies. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The new service — which does not yet have a name or pricing — will launch in the fall of 2024.
The new service will be available to subscribers of ESPN+ and Hulu — both of which are owned by Disney — and Max, which is the umbrella service that is home to all things Warner Bros. That includes such storied brands as CNN and HBO, in addition to WB movies and television shows.
The all-in-one service will include sports from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPNews, ABC, Fox, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS, truTV, and ESPN+. It’ll include the NFL and UFL for professional football, NBA and WNBA, Major League Baseball, NHL, professional golf, tennis, cycling, soccer, UFC, and auto racing — in addition to college sports.
“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,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a press release. “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.”
“We’re pumped to bring the Fox Sports portfolio to this new and exciting platform” Fox Executive Chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in the press release. “We believe the service will provide passionate fans outside of the traditional bundle an array of amazing sports content all in one place.”
Sports — and particularly live sports — have been a sticky wicket in the streaming space. While ESPN+ has been streaming live sports for years and had 26 million subscribers as of its most recent earnings, it has never had a direct-t0-consumer offering of the core ESPN channel, and thus the live sports therein. The Fox Sports app makes available a number of live events, but those also require an existing subscription to another service. Max has streamed live sports like the U.S. National Soccer teams, but it lacks the sort of reach that a combined service would give it.
It’s not yet clear whether the newly created service would use the tech stack from ESPN+ or Hulu, or that of Max — or whether it would be something entirely new. But it will be part of a new app. Presumably, the sports service would leverage one of those existing properties given the timing of the announcement and the reported go-live time frame of 2024. But the press release also said the new service will be able to be bundled with Disney+,
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