On the heels of Netflix’s WWE live sports announcement, there’s more surprising sports streaming news: 14 “television” channels that air sports across Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. properties will be bundled as a new streaming service to launch this fall. Details are forthcoming “at a later date,” but we know that all three media companies will have an equal stake in the joint venture, and it’ll launch as a standalone app under a new brand with its own (independent) management team.
Is It A Cable Breakup Or An Open Relationship?
This deal is yet another signal of traditional TV’s impending demise as live sports becomes streaming’s latest shiny object. But without sports properties from networks including NBC and CBS, this new sports-centric streaming service is, at best, incomplete out of the gate. It adds to the confusion of how and where to watch any given live sports event — making it hard to fully break up with cable, for now.
Yes, This (Temporary) Hybrid Television Model Is Messy
We’re in the “messy middle” of the streaming revolution right now. Big media companies have entered a hybrid stage where traditional television properties are winding down as streaming properties wind up. But this doesn’t mean it’s easy. Business models are disrupted, and consumers are overwhelmed — not just in trying to navigate programming but how to pay for all their streaming subscriptions. To add to consumers’ choices (and confusion), Disney announced today that ESPN will be offered as a standalone streaming service in the fall of 2025.
Bundles Are Back, But Cord Cutting Won’t Save Money
The messy middle that consumers find themselves in means that many still have one foot in cable/satellite and another in streaming. And for those who have or will “cut the cord”? They’re subscribing to multiple streaming services to watch their favorite content. That’s why subscribers to the new Disney, Fox, and Warner streaming sports service can bundle it with Disney+, Hulu, and/or Max. But consumers that expect to save money from cord cutting — in spite of chasing bundles — will likely be disappointed when they see how all of their streaming subscriptions add up.
So, What’s The Point? The Future Of TV Is All Streaming
The Disney, Fox, and Warner streaming sports venture is a necessary step in what is inevitable: In the not-too-distant future, all television will be delivered via streaming. Big media is feverishly working to figure out the right business model, not only to be profitable but also to demonstrate continued growth. Advertisers and media buyers have many more options and configurations to consider — and this is just the beginning. Expect more disruption and more surprises in the short and medium term.
Forrester clients: Let’s chat more about this via a Forrester guidance session.