This is a major merger between competitors against a backdrop of the explosion in the cost of broadcasting rights. ESPN, a subsidiary of Disney, Fox and Warner Bros Discovery announced, Tuesday February 6, the upcoming launch of a new sporting events streaming platform.
To set up this new offer, 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 hold a third of the capital, according to a joint press release. This new platform, scheduled to launch in the fall of 2024, will make it possible to create, in the United States, a sort of “Netflix of sports”.
No equivalent in the world
Indeed, the three companies control, by bringing them together, a large part of the rights to the major American championships, as well as Formula 1, the Football World Cup, three of the four major tennis tournaments, and even the professional tennis circuit. PGA golf. No video on demand service in the world today offers an equivalent or even close product.
The division of sports rights between several platforms has until now forced sports fans in the United States to take out more than one subscription. Furthermore, ESPN, the world number one in sport, has until now refused to broadcast its most important events on its dedicated platform ESPN+, so as not to enter into direct competition with cable television, which still provides it with revenue. consequent. Competition between platforms has even been reinforced by the emergence of new players interested in sports rights.
A snub for Amazon and Paramount Global
The alliance announced Tuesday, which must still be approved by the American regulatory authorities, thus constitutes a snub for those who will not be part of it, in particular Amazon, Apple, Comcast (Peacock) but also Paramount Global, which broadcasts football American (NFL), golf or college basketball.
This is another very hard blow for Paramount Global, already considered the smallest of the major television media in the United States, which many believe will have to rely on a partner to remain relevant. “The launch of this new sports streaming service is a significant moment for Disney and ESPN, a major 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 unique platform could ultimately grant the trio of ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery greater negotiating power in the face of sports championships, the rights to which have soared in recent years.