ESPN, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery said on Tuesday they are joining forces to launch a streaming sports service.
The platform will include offerings from at least 15 networks and all four major professional sports leagues. The paid service is scheduled to debut this fall via a new app, although subscribers will be able to bundle it with Disney+, Hulu and Max, according to a statement from Warner Bros. Discovery.
Each company will own a one-third stake in the joint venture, the statement said.
The plans come amid increased competition in the business of streaming sporting events, with industry giants including Amazon andto add sports content for their streaming customers. In announcing the new venture, Walt Disney-owned ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. said the new platform would provide access to thousands of high-profile sporting events, from NFL games to Formula 1 racing.
With viewers’ attentions split between TV, cable, streaming services and social media platforms, sports programming remains a draw, experts note.
“Sports rights remain the only investment that guarantees a steady supply of must-see content and will therefore likely remain a key part of any streamer’s growth strategy,” analysts with investment advisory firm MoffettNathanson Research said in a recent report.
The new platform will include games from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, WNBA, NASCAR and college sports, including the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball Tournament, as well as golf, tennis and the FIFA World Cup. It will include offerings from 15 TV and cable networks: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS and truTV.
“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 statement. “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.”
The announcement of the bundle also comes as ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery are preparing to enter negotiations to renew their NBA rights, which expire at the end of next season. ESPN has also been searching for strategic partners as it prepares to launch a direct-to-consumer product in the next year or two.
The companies said that more details would be released later, including pricing.
—With reporting by the Associated Press.