business news in context, analysis with attitude

From The Information:

"Disney’s ESPN, Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox Corp. have announced a new streaming joint venture in the U.S. that would put all of their sports programming on a single app. This standalone video service will include access to the sports TV channels owned by each company, including ESPN, TNT and FS1 as well as ESPN+, a subscription service that offers access to sports and games beyond those that ESPN airs on traditional TV.

"The joint venture and app, which is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2024, will be equally owned by ESPN, Fox and WBD and run by an independent management team, the companies said. It’s still to be determined what the service will cost subscribers, but the companies won’t share revenue equally, said another person with knowledge of the matter. Instead, revenue from the service will be determined by how much ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. charge cable TV companies to carry their TV channels. In other words: this means ESPN, which has the most expensive affiliate fees in cable TV, will make more money per subscription to the joint service than Fox and Warner Bros."

The story notes that "the new venture will arrive as live sports rights continue to skyrocket … In this context, a sports bundle consisting of ESPN, Fox Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max could be appealing to hardcore sports fans as it would offer access to a wide selection of games from major sports leagues including the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football."

KC's View:

I can't help but see some parallels here to what's going on with retail media networks.  There are a ton of them, but as the economics of success prove elusive down the road, I think we're going to see consolidation that could put some of the efforts put at risk.

I'm guessing that when this new streaming service launches, we'll see some major events moving to its platform, which will create an outcry from viewers who feel their interests are secondary to the financial interests of sports and media owners.  They'll be right.

Just as shoppers will be right when they start arguing that some retail media networks are using them as pawns in a game designed to generate alternative revenue streams.

It isn't apples to apples, but it also isn't apples to giraffes.