If you're a sports fan who has been paying for cable or live TV streaming simply to access games, you may soon have an alternative that allows you to ditch the non-sports channels once and for all.
It was recently announced that television stalwarts Disney (owner of ESPN), FOX and Warner Bros. Discovery are planning to combine forces with their sports broadcasting rights to form a sports-only streaming app. This app would presumably include games from many college and professional sports leagues that typically are only found on live TV.
This new sports streaming service is not live, doesn’t have a name and we don’t know what the pricing will be yet.
But the fact that it’s coming could change the streaming TV landscape and save sports fans a significant amount of money in the process.
The sports streaming landscape is getting increasingly complicated. You probably have questions. There aren’t answers to all of them just yet, but let’s take a look at what we know so far.
What Sports Will Be on This Streaming App?
According to the Wall Street Journal, a market analysis conducted by Citi indicates that the new service has the capability to encompass about 55% of U.S. sports rights.
While there hasn’t been a definitive list of “will” and “won’t” for games and leagues that will appear on this streaming service, we can speculate on what to expect based on what we know about the broadcasting rights these companies own.
ESPN, which has long been considered the industry leader in live sports, owns rights for several prominent leagues and events. Those include:
- College football (including the SEC and ACC Networks)
- College basketball
- Monday Night Football (NFL)
Likewise, FOX has rights for college football, NFL games and the MLB World Series.
Warner Bros. Discovery owns TBS and TNT. There are NHL, NBA, MLB and NCAA March Madness broadcasts on those networks.
Some existing rights agreements to remember:
- YouTube TV owns the NFL Sunday Ticket rights, so that may impact the way the NFL is shown on this new streaming service.
- Prime Video has exclusive rights to NFL's Thursday Night Football.
- Apple TV+ owns the exclusive streaming rights for MLS soccer.
- NBC's Peacock has rights to the Olympic Games and English Premier League Soccer.
- In-market MLB, NHL and NBA games are still the property of Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) in many markets.
Will Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) Be Available on This Service?
Unfortunately, this announcement will do little to help clear up a murky RSN situation for streamers.
The rights for in-market broadcasts of games for the majority of MLB, NHL and NBA teams are controlled by RSNs that are not owned by the companies that are “joining forces” on this new sports streaming venture.
So, for example, this means Atlanta Braves fans who live in Georgia will still need to find a way to view Bally Sports South to watch the majority of Braves games.
There is some good news on that front, though: Amazon recently purchased a stake in Bally's parent company and it's expected that fans may soon be able to pay for access to games through Prime Video rather than having to pay for a service like Fubo or DIRECTV STREAM. It's a small victory, but it's one step closer to returning to affordable access to RSNs.
How Much Will This Streaming Service Cost?
The initial announcement of this partnership did not include any pricing details.
A few industry sources, such as The Streamable, have estimated that the unnamed service may cost between $40 and $50 per month.
However, it has been indicated that customers of ESPN+, Disney+, Hulu and Max may be able to receive a discount by bundling through their existing video streaming service subscriptions.
That pricing may seem high when compared to a service like Netflix or Max, but it does offer a discount from the current cost of live TV services that currently show these sporting events.
As it stands in 2024, consumers can expect to pay between $75 and $100 per month for a live TV streaming package that carries most of the popular sports channels.
When Can We Expect This New Streaming Service To Be Available?
There is not an official release date for the unnamed sports streaming service, but you can expect to be able to subscribe at some point in 2024.
According to CNBC, the projected launch for this project is sometime in the fall.
This makes sense, as the next football season will be in full swing by September. And October is usually the starting month for both the NBA and NHL seasons.
Will you subscribe to this new service? Does it make you more likely to consider cutting the cord or canceling your live TV streaming service? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Clark.com community.
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