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How the New Disney-Fox-Warner Streaming App Could Change the Way You Watch Sports

The new app bundles 14 channels in the latest blow to traditional TV viewing

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Photo Collage: AARP; (Source: Getty Images (4))

As if we aren’t already overrun with streaming services, a new behemoth will soon join the ranks vying for our eyeballs (and pocketbooks). On Feb. 6, Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced they would jointly launch a new streaming service this fall that would include all of the sports events that each company currently televises.

A lot of the details are still under wraps – including the name of the service and, crucially, the price tag – but the new streamer promises to bundle content from 14 channels that offer sports, including Disney’s ABC and ESPN, Fox’s Fox Sports 1 and Big Ten Network, and Warner’s TNT and TBS.

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Here’s a breakdown of what this all means.

How will it work exactly?

Subscribers to the new app will get bundled access to 14 stations that carry sports – and because of how sports licensing deals are structured, you’ll be able to livestream non-sports content (like Fox’s 9-1-1 and ABC’s Dancing With the Stars) as well as sporting events. Since most games and sports events won’t be available on demand, look at this more as an alternative to a cable/satellite TV package for sports fans, but one you can watch on multiple devices, like tablets and smartphones.

How much will it cost?

The new joint venture has not announced a price just yet. Given how the three companies have forked out billions of dollars for sports TV rights, though, you can expect monthly subscriptions to be well over the $15 cost of most streaming services, so that the companies can earn back their sizable investment. Disney’s ESPN alone takes in roughly $9 per cable subscriber, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. So many analysts expect a monthly cost between $25 and $50.

Which sports will be included?

These three media giants have gobbled up a ton of sports rights in recent years. The new streamer will let you watch all of the nationally televised NBA and NHL games, for instance, and three of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments (NBC Universal broadcasts the French Open) as well as the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. The app will also feature NFL football, Major League Baseball, the PGA tour, the UFC, Formula 1 and thousands of college sports events.

Is this the only app sports fans need?

Alas, no. These three companies aren’t the only big players in the sports broadcasting biz. CBS, NBC and Amazon – which have rights to the Olympics, most of the PGA golf tour and most NFL games – are not part of this new app. For example, the NFL playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins streamed exclusively on NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming service – which is not part of this app.

So you’ll still need to subscribe to other channels and streamers for a lot of premium sports content. The rights to the NCAA basketball tournament known as March Madness are currently split between Paramount’s CBS and Warner – meaning that the new app will only play the championship game every other year. Golf fans will have to split their time too, since broadcast rights to the PGA Championships and the Masters are shared by CBS and Disney’s ESPN. And Major League Baseball games are streamed on a dizzying number of platforms, including Peacock, Apple TV+ and YouTube.

Will I only be able to watch sports via this new streaming app?

No. ESPN, TBS and all the other channels bundled in this new app will still be included in cable and satellite packages – or even via antenna, in the case of broadcast granddaddies like ABC and Fox.

But more sports content is shifting to streaming services, as these upstarts have started to outbid traditional stations for sports rights. Apple TV+ carries Major League Soccer while the NFL’s Thursday Night Football streams on Amazon’s Prime Video.

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Why are the companies launching this app now?

The TV titans who’ve made a fortune off the cable/satellite model see the writing on the wall, as consumers cut the cord and switch to streaming services. As recently as 2016, 100 million Americans subscribed to pay TV – but the research firm PwC forecasts that this number will be halved by 2027, to less than 50 million. That’s led entertainment conglomerates to scramble to catch up – and to hike traditional cable subscription fees. It’s also led to the creation of streaming bundles like this new app that look an awful lot like those cable packages of old.

But there’s still a lot of money to be made from the old broadcast/cable model, which is more profitable for companies than streaming. As a result, many companies are hedging their bets, investing in streaming apps and web-based alternatives like FuboTV and YouTube TV, since that’s how consumers (especially younger ones) prefer to watch shows. At the same time, they want to milk as much money as they can from old-fashioned broadcast and cable channels.

Bottom line: Are these new developments good or bad for sports fans?

The good news is that you can watch more live sports events now than at just about any time in human history. But finding the game you want has gotten a whole lot more complicated.

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