They dream of turning it into a kind of Netflix for sports. Competitors ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced that they would join forces on Tuesday, February 6, to launch a new sports streaming platform in the fall of 2024. To launch this new offering, which will only be available in the United States , the three media groups have agreed to create a joint company, in which each partner will own one third of the capital, according to a joint statement.
In fact, the three companies control, when they merge, a large part of the rights to the major American championships, as well as Formula 1, the Soccer World Cup, three of the four major tennis tournaments and even the tennis circuit. professional tennis. PGA Golf.
No video on demand service in the world today offers an equivalent or even similar product. The fragmentation of sports rights between various platforms has until now forced sports fans in the United States to contract more than one subscription. Furthermore, ESPN, a Disney subsidiary and number one in the world in sports, has so far refused to broadcast its most important events on its specific platform ESPN+, so as not to enter into direct competition with cable television, which still provides it with important income. Competition between platforms has even been reinforced by the emergence of new players interested in sports rights.
Hard blow for Paramount
The alliance announced on Tuesday, which still must be approved by US regulatory authorities, constitutes a snub to those who will not be part of it, in particular Amazon, Apple, Comcast (Peacock), but also Paramount Global, which broadcasts American football (NFL ). ), golf or college basketball. This is another very hard blow for Paramount, already considered the smallest of the major television media in the United States, many of which believe that it will have to depend on a partner to stay in the race.
“The launch of this new sports streaming service is a significant moment for Disney and ESPN, a huge success for sports fans and an important step forward for the media industry”commented Disney CEO Bob Iger, quoted in the press release.
The prospect of this single platform could ultimately give the trio of ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery greater negotiating power ahead of sports championships, the rights to which have skyrocketed in recent years.