Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. team up to launch new sports streaming service

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Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. are teaming to create a joint sports streaming service.

The as-yet unnamed service, which could be available as early as the fall and offer a sort of Hulu model for sports, comes amid an explosion in sports-streaming rights and audiences.

The service would essentially be a skinny bundle of the companies’ linear channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, Fox, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as the ESPN+ streaming service.

“The launch of this new streaming sports service is a significant moment for Disney
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and ESPN, a major win for sports fans, and an important step forward for the media business,” Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said in a statement late Tuesday. “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.”

Added Warner Bros.
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CEO David Zaslav: “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.”

Each company will own one-third of the platform, according to Disney, in a deal reminiscent of the original Hulu, which started off as a joint venture between ABC, Fox and NBCUniversal.

The service will have a new brand with an independent management team, and will be available to bundle with Disney+, Hulu and Max subscriptions.

“We’re pumped,” Fox
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CEO Lachlan Murdoch said. “We believe the service will provide passionate fans outside of the traditional bundle an array of amazing sports content all in one place.”

More details, including pricing, will be announced later.

Prominently missing from the deal are Comcast Corp.
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which owns NBCUniversal and its sports lineup that includes NFL football and the Olympics, and Paramount Global
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which owns CBS — which carries the NFL and college football, among other sports.

The new service will showcase thousands of high-profile sporting events and include all four major sports leagues — the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL — as well as college football and basketball, golf, tennis, cycling, soccer and UFC.

Shares of Disney were down 1% in extended trading Tuesday, while Fox shares jumped 6% and WBD gained 3%.

Mike Murphy contributed to this report.



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