The streaming world is getting a big shake-up regarding sports content in the US.
ESPN, FOX and Warner Bros. Discovery have just announced a joint venture streaming business for the sports that the three companies have the rights to.
Kayo Sports has been a world leader in offering a comprehensive Australian sports specialist streaming service. Now the US will be replicating much of what Kayo has achieved. The difference being that most of the rights for sports shown on Kayo are controlled by News Corp. There are exceptions though for things like the ESPN content that is also broadcast on Kayo.
The JV in the US will bring together both linear TV sports broadcasts and direct-to-consumer streaming platforms like ESPN+.
The sports on offer in the US will include NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, College Sports, UFC, PGA TOUR Golf, Grand Slam Tennis, the FIFA World Cup, and cycling.
Sports rights controlled by Paramount’s CBS and Comcast’s NBC won’t be available.
Streaming sport: Many details yet to be revealed
As yet there are still major reveals to come about the new service.
There are no details of the name, the start date, or the pricing structure.
The partners are saying the service will come via a new app that is being built to deliver the content to sports fans.
The Wall Street Journal reported it will still be possible for ESPN to offer a standalone service for subscribers who don’t want the bundle. The paper also reported it is expected the three partners control about 55% of all US TV sports rights.
The partnership comes as ESPN and Warner Bros Discovery are negotiating a new 10-year rights deal with the NBA. It had been reported that Fox was unlikely to bid for rights.
Joint venture partners
A statement from the partners has noted ESPN, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, Fox. and Warner Bros. Discovery have reached an understanding on principal terms to form a new JV.
The formation of the new service is subject to the negotiation of definitive agreements amongst the parties.
Each entity would own one-third of the JV, have equal board representation and license their sports content to the joint venture on a non-exclusive basis.
Although the excact launch date is unknown, the partners are targeting some time in the US autumn – March – May to start. The Major League Baseball season kicks off March 28 which might be a nice date to start. However, the new service won’t carry all MLB games.
Subscribers would also have the ability to bundle the product with other subscriptions, including Disney+, Hulu and/or Max.
This could be something Australian sports fans will see soon. As part of the Foxtel Group’s new Huddl service, don’t be surprised to see Kayo Sports being offered as a bundled product with subscriptions to other streaming platforms.
List of US sports networks
US sports channels that are part of the service include ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as ESPN+.
Broadcast CEOs comment
Bob Iger, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company said, “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. 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. I’m grateful to Jimmy Pitaro and the team at ESPN, who are at the forefront of innovating on behalf of consumers to create new offerings with more choice and greater value.”
Lachlan Murdoch, executive chair and chief executive officer of Fox said, “We’re pumped to bring the Fox Sports portfolio to this new and exciting platform. We believe the service will provide passionate fans outside of the traditional bundle an array of amazing sports content all in one place.”
David Zaslav, chief executive officer of Warner Bros Discovery, said “At WBD, our ambition is always to connect our leading content and brands with as many viewers as possible, and this exciting joint venture and the unparalleled combination of marquee sports rights and access to the greatest sporting events in the world allows us to do just that. 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.”
Sporting events on the platform
Pro Football: NFL | UFL
Basketball: NBA | WNBA
College Sports: Thousands of games and events, multiple sports, across nearly two dozen conferences, including: ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, SEC | 40 NCAA Championship Events | NCAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball Tournaments |The College Football Playoff
Golf: PGA Tour | PGA Championship | The Masters | TGL
Grand Slam Tennis: Wimbledon | US Open | Australian Open
Cycling: Giro d’Italia | UCI Mountain Bike World Cup | Giro Donne
Soccer: FIFA World Cup | U.S. Soccer NWSL | MLS | LALIGA | Bundesliga | UEFA | CONCACAF
Combat Sports: UFC | Top Rank
Motor sports: Formula 1 | NASCAR | 24 Hours of Le Mans