ESPN, Fox and others to launch sports streaming service: What to know
Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced Tuesday that they will join together and sell access to all the sports they broadcast on television through a new streaming service. It will be available this fall, but many other details, like pricing or who will run the service, are not yet known.
The subtext of the agreement – and most of the decisions made by media companies – is that the cable bundle is collapsing. A decade ago, approximately 100 million households in the United States subscribed to a package of cable or satellite television channels. Today, that number is about 70 million, and falling.
Media companies know that young adults no longer sign up for cable, and their best customers are also their oldest. They know that people no longer think of “television” as such, rather they have become accustomed to “content” that can be viewed on a television, phone, or any other device.
The days of cable may be numbered, but right now it's still a profitable business – streaming, for most companies, is not – and the largest audiences for shows, especially sports, still exist on traditional television. . So how do media companies get from where they are today to where they are meant to be?
He expects deals like the one announced this week.
How does this work?
Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery have bundled 14 of their channels showing sports – the full list includes ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPNews, Fox, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Big Ten Are included. network, TNT, TBS and TruTV – and the ESPN+ streaming service, and will sell them as a package.
how much will it cost?
This was not announced. But you can expect it to cost more than the $15 or so per month that most streaming companies charge, and subscriptions to pay television packages cost $100 or less per month. Advertisements will be shown on the new service.
Is it a streaming service or a cable-like bundle of channels?
Both, sort of. This is definitely a streaming service that you will be able to subscribe to and watch on a variety of devices. But instead of a menu of individual shows to watch on demand, there will be channels you can watch live, like cable subscribers do.
As a result, this means that subscribers to the service will also be able to watch non-sports shows airing on these channels, such as “The Simpsons” and “The Bachelor.”
What is there in all the content that isn't a game?
Contracts between networks and leagues are usually specific about where games can be shown. Due to the fear of reduced viewership, most leagues are hesitant to allow many games to be moved from broadcast and cable channels to streaming entirely. But this new service is structured in such a way that it offers everything on the included channels: sports and non-sports content alike. This makes it more like cable bundles that already exist and means companies do not need to get permission from the league to show games on the service.
Is this the only service I need to watch all the games?
No. Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery have paid for the rights to show a lot of games, but they don't have the rights to everything.
NBC, CBS, Amazon and other smaller players are not part of the deal. So if you want to watch the sports they own the rights to — including several national football leagues, golf majors and the PGA Tour, men's college basketball tournaments, the Olympics and the English Premier League, among others — you'll still see those channels. Must subscribe.
So how do I get all the games?
Well, you subscribe to a pay television package, or in the case of Amazon, Amazon Prime. You can get what is shown on CBS and NBC with a cheap digital antenna, but if you want games on USA or CBS Sports Network, you will have to get a pay television package. For any games exclusively on NBC's Peacock streaming service (such as this season's NFL playoff game between Kansas City and Miami) or CBS's Paramount+ streaming service, you'll need to subscribe to them.
Will the Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery channels still be part of normal cable or satellite packages?
If I need to subscribe to cable to watch games on the CBS and NBC channels, and Disney, Fox and Warner Bros.'s Discovery Channel will also be there, why bother with this new service?
Serious sports fans probably won't want that. But this service takes many of the sports that were available on cable, and sells them in another way. If you care about all sports, or non-sports channels like Food Network or Nickelodeon, this probably isn't for you.
But if you paid the one-time cost for a digital antenna, and then purchased this package, you could watch a larger percentage of all sports shown on television at a price that is probably much cheaper than a cable subscription.
This can also be beneficial if you're a fan of only a few sports. Do you like the National Basketball Association? You can get 100 percent of nationally telecasted sports through this package. Like a small college sport, like volleyball? You can get most of it through this package.
This doesn't seem like a perfect solution.
It probably isn't. Right now, your options are to pay for a television package (and some streaming services) to watch everything, get a digital antenna and watch the NFL and some other big events on traditional television, or not watch the game at all.
One day, you may be able to pay a la carte for individual games, or a service may bundle all the games together and somehow offer it at a lower price than a cable subscription. This package could serve as a bridge toward that future for some sports fans.
Can you please stop calling it a package?
Blame the companies for not having names. They're just calling it a “joint venture.”