Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced on Tuesday that they would join together and sell access to all of the sports they televise through a new streaming service. It will be available this fall, but many other details, like price or who would run the service, are not yet known.
The subtext of the agreement — and of most decisions media companies make — is that the cable bundle is collapsing. A decade ago, about 100 million homes in the United States subscribed to a package of cable or satellite television channels. Today, that number is around 70 million, and dropping.
Media companies know that young adults no longer sign up for cable, and that their best customers are also their oldest. They know people no longer think of “television,” but are instead used to “content” that can be watched on a television, a phone or some other device.
Cable’s days seem numbered but right now it is still a profitable business — streaming, for most companies, is not — and the biggest 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 going to be?
With, they hope, deals like the one announced this week.
How does it work?
Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery have bundled 14 of their channels that show sports — the full list includes ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPNews, Fox, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS and truTV — and the ESPN+ streaming service, and will sell them as a single package.
How much will it cost?
That was not announced. But you can expect it to cost more than the $15 or so a month that most streaming companies charge, and less than the $100 or so it costs each month to subscribe to a pay television package. Ads will be shown on the new service.
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