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ESPN, Fox and TNT to launch sports streaming service

The owners of three of the biggest names in sports broadcasting: The Walt Disney Company, 80% owner of ESPN, Fox Corporation, owner of the Fox television network and Warner Bros. Discovery, owner of cable television channel TNT have announced plans for a merged sports streaming service to launch this fall. The three companies each have a 33% share in the currently unnamed and unpriced service. The news came as ESPN planned to launch a standalone streaming service in 2025. The cost of the service was predicted to be between $40 and $50 per month.
“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.”
The expected channel lineup for the service included seven channels from Disney’s ESPN and content from ESPN+, Fox’s FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network and Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT, TBS and TruTV. Broadcast networks ABC and Fox were also expected to be in the channel lineup, but it is unknown if the service would have a sports-only feed, or a feed from local stations such as KOCO 5 and Fox 25 respectively. KOCO was owned by Hearst Television, which owned the remaining 20% of ESPN. The service could optionally be bundled with Disney+, Hulu, and/or Max.
With the channels listed, the service would include games from the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, including Super Bowls that air on Fox or ESPN, Monday Night Football and the entire NBA, MLB and NHL playoff schedule as well as college football and the College Football Playoff, college basketball and the majority of March Madness games, as well as Nascar, Formula 1, All Elite Wrestling, Major League Soccer, the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Euro tournament and the U.S. national soccer teams.
Anything broadcast on CBS, NBC or Amazon won’t be included in the service, such as NFL games from CBS, Sunday Night Football, Premier League Soccer, Thursday Night Football, the Olympics, the PGA tour, WWE events, the UEFA Champions League, certain college football and college basketball games, including March Madness games on CBS and Super Bowls that air on CBS or NBC. CBS and NBC have frequently streamed live sports on Paramount+ and Peacock respectively.
Social media and other sports commentators have nicknamed the new service “spulu,” a combination of the words sport and streaming service Hulu, which Disney owned at the time of this article. Hulu’s origins were similar when Fox and NBC started the service in 2007 with support from investment firm Providence Equity Partners.
NFL executives have said they felt blindsided over the decision to launch the service without their knowledge while streaming service FuboTV has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the three companies.
In a press release, FuboTV said that it has tried for years to offer a sports-only service but has been prevented from doing so because of the three companies forcing the service to bundle sports channels with other unrelated channels which FuboTV says requires them to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to license and broadcast content that their customers do not necessarily want.
FuboTV started in 2015 as a soccer-focused streaming service but included more sports in 2017. In recent years, the service added more channels of other genres such as news and entertainment to become more of a traditional television streaming service while retaining a sports focus.
“Each of these companies has consistently engaged in anti-competitive practices that aim to monopolize the market, stifle any form of competition, create higher pricing for subscribers, and cheat consumers from deserved choice,” FuboTV Co-founder and CEO David Gandler said in a press release.

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Jack Dever
Jack Dever, Staff Writer/Photographer

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