Two US lawmakers raise concerns over Disney, Fox, Warner sports streaming venture

By Thomson Reuters Apr 16, 2024 | 5:26 PM

(Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers Jerry Nadler and Joaquin Castro on Tuesday raised competition concerns over the sports streaming joint venture planned by Walt Disney, Fox and Warner Bros Discovery. The congressmen questioned how the new offering would affect access, competition, and choice in the sports streaming market in a letter to the media companies’ CEOs.

“We are concerned that this consolidation will result in higher prices for consumers and less fair licensing terms for upstream sports leagues and downstream video distributors,” they said in a letter addressed to Disney’s Bob Iger, Fox’s Lachlan Murdoch and Warner Bros’ David Zaslav.

They urged the companies to respond to their queries by April 30 and also send their responses to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

In February, the three media companies had announced that they would launch a joint venture to start a sports streaming service this autumn to capture younger viewers who are not tuned in to television.

The deal has, however, come under scrutiny from the DoJ, according to media reports, while it is also facing an antitrust lawsuit from sports-focused streaming service FuboTV.

Disney and Warner Bros did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Fox declined to comment.

The three companies have a broad portfolio of professional and collegiate sports rights, which span the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, FIFA World Cup and college competitions.

A new app would provide non-exclusive access to a collection of television sports networks, including ESPN, Fox Sports 1 and TNT, as well as to content that is streamed.

(Reporting by Granth Vanaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)