Saturday, May 25, 2024

Disney, Fox and WBD Unveil Name of Sports-Streaming Venture: Venu Sports

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The joint venture of Disney/ESPN, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery to package together a sports streaming bundle has a name — Venu Sports.

“We are excited to officially introduce Venu Sports, a brand that we feel captures the spirit of an all-new streaming home where sports fans outside of the traditional pay TV ecosystem can experience an incredible collection of live sports, all in one place,” Pete Distad, CEO of Venu Sports, said in a statement. “As preparations for the platform continue to accelerate, we are singularly focused on delivering a best-in-class product for our target audience, built from the ground up using the latest technologies to engage and entertain discerning sports fans wanting one-stop access to live games.”

Disney, Fox and WBD unveiled their partnership in February, positioning the new streaming bundle as a way to reach consumers who don’t subscribe to pay TV. It’s pegged to debut in the fall of 2024. The trio in March announced the hiring of Distad, who worked for a decade at Apple and most recently was responsible for Apple TV+ business, operations and global distribution.

Pricing and a specific launch date haven’t been announced for Venu, which will combine ESPN+ with the three companies’ linear TV networks that carry sports programming (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNews, Fox, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS and truTV).

The venture also launched a new website at venu.com. A notice at the bottom of the landing page says, “Launch is conditional on receiving regulatory approval and is expected for Fall 2024. This site is owned and operated by a subsidiary of FOX Corporation.” The three companies also noted that the JV is still pending the “finalization of definitive agreements amongst the parties.”

The Justice Department reportedly has planned to review the three-way venture to look at anticompetitive implications, and last month two leading congressional Democrats expressed concerns that the JV may “result in higher prices for consumers and less fair licensing terms for upstream sports leagues and downstream video distributors.” Meanwhile, streaming TV provider Fubo filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the JV service’s launch, alleging the venture violates antitrust laws. On May 2, Fubo, DirecTV, Dish Network, Newsmax and others sent a letter to members of Congress calling for hearings on the state of competition in the pay-TV market, specifically calling out the Disney-Fox-WBD joint venture as “rais[ing] serious competition concerns that call for Congress’s immediate oversight.”

Venu Sports will be made available directly to consumers via a new app, the companies said. Subscribers will also have the ability to bundle the product, including with Disney+, Hulu or Max.

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