Disney, Warner & Fox Team-Up to Create All-In-One Sports Streaming Platform

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Joint Sports Streaming Service

Disney-subsidiary ESPN, Warner Bros.Discovery and Fox announced on Wednesday their intention to create a new joint streaming sports platform, to combine their relevant networks. Each will own one-third of the new joint venture and there would be a new brand with an independent management team. [1]

They did not provide details on name or pricing, but the new service is expected to launch this autumn and subscribers will be able to bundle it with the existing general streaming offerings of Disney and Warner. The new direct-to-consumer platform will give fans access to cable and broadcast networks of these media giants, including ESPN, TNT, FS1 and more. The new platform would house many prominent events like NFL, NBA, NHL, Tennis Grand Slams, Formula 1 and NASCAR.

I have been writing for a long time about the significance of live sports and along with bundling/consolidation, i highlighted them in the 2024 Lookout as areas that would shape the streaming market this year. Sports events can draw committed viewers on a regular basis and alluding to their importance during the last earnings call, Disney CFO Kevin Lansberry shared that 40% of the firm's fiscal 2024 content spend will go to sports [2]. Furthermore, Netflix announced its entry into live sports a few weeks back, with WWE Raw, starting from 2025. [3]

According to Nielsen, the most popular sport event of 2023 in the US was the NFL Super Bowl, which attracted an average audience of 113 million that watched nearly 48 billion minutes [4]. The most successful streaming TV series of the year, which was available on both Netflix and NBC's Peacock, peaked at 57.7 viewing minutes. [5]

Sport matches are also naturally suited for commercials, with most major streamers by now offering ad-supported subscriptions plans. Netflix and Disney both went down that road in late-2022 and the results are very encouraging, as these tiers create an additional revenue stream and allow for a lower entry price. As per January's update, Netflix's ad-inclusive plans account for 40% of signups in the relevant markets [6] and accounted for more than half of Disney's subscribers in the US in third calendar quarter, according to CEO Bob Iger. [2]

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Furthermore, the streaming market is fragmented, with many players in the arena, from legacy entertainment giants like Disney and Warner, to tech behemoths like Apple and Amazon. Along with high inflation that pinches prospective customers, there is room for consolidation and/or bundling of services.

Tuesday's announcement plays into both these themes - the importance of sports and consolidation prospects - and can shape the direct-to-consumer market. Linear networks are still the main venue for live sports, but they have been transitioning towards streaming and the new service can accelerate this shift. It can also put pressure other sports hosts like Paramount and Comcast, but also Netflix. The streaming leader offers a slew of sports-adjacent shows but only now made a timid entry to live sports. It will have to do more to compete in an increasingly important market.

Nikos Tzabouras

Senior Financial Editorial Writer

Nikos Tzabouras is a graduate of the Department of International & European Economic Studies at the Athens University of Economics and Business. He has a long time presence at FXCM, as he joined the company in 2011. He has served from multiple positions, but specializes in financial market analysis and commentary.

With his educational background in international relations, he emphasizes not only on Technical Analysis but also in Fundamental Analysis and Geopolitics – which have been having increasing impact on financial markets. He has longtime experience in market analysis and as a host of educational trading courses via online and in-person sessions and conferences.

References

1

Retrieved 07 Feb 2024 https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/espn-fox-warner-bros-discovery-streaming-sports-service/

2

Retrieved 07 Feb 2024 https://edge.media-server.com/mmc/p/ycax63re

3

Retrieved 07 Feb 2024 https://about.netflix.com/en/news/netflix-to-become-new-home-of-wwe-raw-beginning-2025

4

Retrieved 07 Feb 2024 https://www.nielsen.com/insights/2023/tops-of-2023-sports/

5

Retrieved 07 Feb 2024 https://www.nielsen.com/insights/2024/streaming-unwrapped-streaming-viewership-goes-to-the-library-in-2023/

6

Retrieved 17 Jun 2024 https://s22.q4cdn.com/959853165/files/doc_financials/2023/q4/NEW-FINAL-Q4-23-Shareholder-Letter.pdf

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