Fox-Disney-Warner Bros. Discovery Sports App Targeting 5 Million Subscribers in First 5 Years, Lachlan Murdoch Says

The executive adds that he is not “overly concerned” about about the partnership from a regulatory perspective

ESPN, Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery (Photo: Getty Images)

Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch said the company’s sports streaming venture with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery hopes to reach 5 million subscribers within the first five years of its launch.

“Our internal expectations and what we built our plans around are that within five years, we will have 5 million subscribers,” he said during Morgan Stanley’s 2024 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco on Monday. “Some of the talk around this being in the teens or 20 million subscribers, we don’t think that’s the case … we think around the 5 million-subscriber mark, the decimal will settle after about five years.”

Last month, the trio announced that the unnamed service would launch in the fall, with access to content from linear sports networks including ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as the ABC network. Content will include 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 would also have the option to bundle the product with Disney+, Hulu and Max.

“This a pro-consumer package,” Murdoch added. “We’ve made the consumer choice incredibly difficult and what this bundle does is put a majority of sports into one bundle. It’s an easy place for sports fans to come to.”

Analysts have estimated that the service, which has not disclosed pricing, will land somewhere between $35 and $50 per month. While Murdoch did not confirm pricing, he noted that the venture would be in “the higher ranges of what people have talked about.”

The subscriber estimate comes as the joint venture has become the subject of antitrust scrutiny, with Fubo suing to block the partnership. Bloomberg also reported that the Department of Justice is planning to launch its own antitrust review of the joint venture.

Murdoch said that he’s not “overly concerned” about the joint venture from a regulatory perspective, arguing that it is focused on 50 million to 60 million households outside of the cable bundle, dubbed “cord nevers,” which are not being served.

“The top 50% of households are served incredibly well. But there’s 50% of households at the bottom that aren’t served at all, and I just don’t believe that they’re not sports fans, or there aren’t a lot of sports fans in that cohort. So we want to serve that part of the market that is not served today,” he said. “There’s no competition in that market today and we want to do it in a very pro-consumer, consumer first manner. So for all those reasons, I’m not overly concerned about the environment.”

While Fox is getting into the sports streaming game, Murdoch emphasized that the company remains “out of the streaming arena” from an entertainment perspective.

“We’re not gonna engage in a bloody streaming battle. That’s not for us. We’re a different company with a very different focus,” he said. “What we are doing, though, is we’ve always said that we are distribution agnostic. We want our brands and our content available to as big an audience of as many viewers as possible, wherever they are. And for us, that means the audience that are cord cutters, or ‘cord nevers,’ which is a huge market in the United States. If we can put our sports in front of those fans, that’ll be accretive to us and many of them will be incremental subscribers to us. We think that’s an important place to be and that’s what our sports streaming joint venture is all about.”

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