Sporticast 320: What We Know About the FOX/ESPN/WBD Bundle

On the latest Sporticast episode, host Eben Novy-Williams and Jacob Feldman break down the biggest sports business story of the week: the new sports streaming platform being planned by Fox, ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery.

The three companies announced the news on Tuesday afternoon to the surprise of many around the industry. The details so far are light—there’s no name, no pricing and no appointed leadership group—but it appears each company will get an equal 1/3 stake in the new platform. It will hold sports (and non-sports) rights from across the three media giants, providing customers access to 15 linear networks/services:  ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPNEWS, ABC, Fox, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS, and truTV.

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The hosts discuss what led to this tie-up. Cord-cutting has rocked the once-lucrative cable industry, and the streaming services that have filled the void have struggled financially. It’s also caused headaches for sports fans, who complain about the cost of all the different streaming options, confusion about which matches are on which services, and their difficulty bouncing between games on different platforms.

They talk about how the three companies might share in the economics of the new service. Each will own a third of the platform, but they likely won’t share ad revenue and subscriptions evenly. Fox and ESPN, for example, bring valuable NFL games to the platform.

They also discuss the different route each company took in sports streaming to get to this point. ESPN has pushed ESPN+ broadly, despite its losing money quarter after quarter. WBD had B/R Live, which went through multiple iterations and was eventually absorbed into the Max platform. And Fox notably stayed out of streaming entirely, watching from the sidelines as its competitors stood up their own services. The hosts talk about all three routes in retrospect, and discuss how much this new combined entity might cannibalize each company’s existing offerings.

Lastly, Feldman discusses the possible perspectives of people on the outside looking in. They include NBCUniversal Media chairman Mark Lazarus, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Disney shareholders.

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