Disney, Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery Unveil Title, Logo for Sports Streaming Joint Venture: Venu Sports

The offering, which combines the media giants’ portfolio of sports networks, is on track to launch this fall

Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery have named their upcoming sports stream joint venture Venu Sports.

The name takes inspiration from where live sports lives: the stadiums, arenas, speedways, octagons, courts, rinks, ballparks, and more, where fans come to watch and connect with the action.

“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 eco-system can experience an incredible collection of live sports, all in one place,” Venu Sports CEO Pete Distad 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.”

The offering, which is on track to launch this fall and designed to serve households outside the traditional cable bundle dubbed cord nevers, will be made available directly to consumers via a new app. Fox, Disney and WBD will each own a 1/3 stake, have equal board representation and will license their sports content to the joint venture on a non-exclusive basis.

It will combine content from linear networks ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as the ABC network, including the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, College Sports, UFC, PGA TOUR Golf, Grand Slam Tennis, the FIFA World Cup, cycling and much more.

Subscribers will also have the ability to bundle the product, including with Disney+, Hulu or Max. Pricing and more specifics about launch timing will be announced at a later date.

Analysts have estimated that the JV’s pricing could fall anywhere between $35 to $50 per month. Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch previously suggested it would be in the “higher ranges of what people are talking about.”

An individual close to the venture previously told TheWrap that pricing would be lower than YouTube TV’s $72.99 per month base plan.

When it comes to revenue from the partnership, the companies are expected to earn a similar carriage fee rate as they do through other distribution channels where their networks are available. The trio’s members will each be responsible for selling their own advertising and will retain all of the advertising revenue from their content, the individual said. 

In addition to the name and logo, Venu Sports has launched a website at venu.com, which is operated by a subsidiary of Fox Corporation. A notice on the site states that the launch is “conditional on receiving regulatory approval.” The three companies also state that the JV is still pending the “finalization of definitive agreements amongst the parties.”

The launch of Venu Sports doesn’t come without controversy. The team-up is currently facing legal pushback from Fubo and antitrust scrutiny from the Department of Justice and in Congress from Reps. Jerry Nadler and Joaquin Castro.

Fubo, DirecTV, Dish, Newsmax and others co-signed a letter earlier this month urging Congress to hold hearings on the future of competition in the pay-TV market, arguing that Venu Sports raises “serious competition concerns that call for Congress’s immediate oversight.”

Murdoch has previously said he’s “not overly concerned” about the potential for regulatory scrutiny, noting the offering is targeting 50 million to 60 million “cord never” households that aren’t currently being served. The venture is aiming for 5 million subscribers within the first five years of its launch.

“We’re proceeding as though this is going to clear basically government scrutiny,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC in April.  

The content of Venu Sports is also in a bit of limbo as negotiations are ongoing for NBA rights.

Warner Bros. Discovery is in a bidding war with NBCUniversal to retain a portion of the NBA rights, but if it loses them it’ll be a blow not only to Venu Sports but to WBD’s linear networks like TBS and TNT.

WBD CEO David Zaslav said during the company’s first quarter earnings call that conversations with the NBA were ongoing and that the company has “matching rights that allow us to match third party offers before the NBA enters into an agreement with them.” In addition to Warner and Comcast, Disney and Amazon are vying for NBA packages.

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