Paramount’s Bob Bakish Doubts the Fox-Disney-WBD Sports App Will Be ‘Ideal’ for ‘True Sports Fans’

The company’s CEO pointed out the service will be missing “half the NFL”

Frank Clark #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackles Sony Michel #20 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri (Getty Images)
Frank Clark #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackles Sony Michel #20 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri (Credit: Getty Images)

Paramount Global president and CEO Bob Bakish is skeptical of Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery’s combined live sports streaming offering. During the 2023 fourth quarter earnings call for the company, Bakish addressed the upcoming streaming service, which is supposed to be available in the fall.

“Let’s start with the fact that there’s still a lot we don’t know about this service, things like price, packaging, consumer appetite,” Bakish said on Wednesday. “And to the consumer point, for a true sports fan, this product only has a subset of sports.”

The Paramount head went on to say the offering will be missing “half the NFL, a lot of college” and will have “virtually no” golf or soccer.

“It’s hard to believe that’s ideal,” Backish continued.

The CEO and president went on to highlight his company’s own sports strategy that Bakish boasted serves “true sports fans.” That strategy involves Paramount’s own MVPD as well as its virtual MVPD partnership to offer sports year round. The executive also emphasized the relationship between linear and streaming thanks to CBS and Paramount+, noting that consumers are watching content on “both.”

“I referenced this 90% factor, i.e. people who come in for sports on Paramount+, 90% of their engagement is with non-sports. That’s a clear opportunity that we’re continuing to exploit,” Bakish said.

Paramount Global has a reason to be a bit smug about this one. The company’s deals with the NFL, NCAA and UEFA are “locked up for the next decade.”

“Bottom line, we very much like where we are with respect to sports execution and see the Paramount strategy creating substantial value therein,” Bakish concluded.

Bakish wasn’t the only executive to address the offering on Wednesday. Nexstar president and COO Michael Biard was more positive about the streaming service Wednesday morning, noting that there has been “significant misinterpretation and market overreaction” over the offering and that it will ultimately be “additive” to Nexstar.

Earlier this month, Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery announced they would be releasing a joint sports streaming app that will combine ESPN, TNT and Fox Sports on one platform. The three companies will share equal ownership and have equal board representation of the company. Additionally, the content available on platform will be available on a nonexclusive basis.

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