The constantly-changing sports media landscape received one of its largest shakeups to date on February 6th when Disney/ESPN, Fox Corp, and Warner Bros. Discovery announced they are teaming up to launch the first sports streaming mega-bundle in the Fall of 2024.
The currently unnamed streaming service will include ESPN+, plus streaming feeds of 14 linear TV networks: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNews, ABC, Fox, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS and truTV. The package will be available as a standalone subscription, as well as as an add-on to Disney+, Hulu, and Max.
This marks the first time ESPN network channels will be available direct-to-consumer as programming on those stations was previously not included with ESPN+ subscriptions. With rumors constantly circulating about Apple TV+, Netflix, and Amazon looking to expand their sports programming, this new alliance between companies that tend to bid against each other for sports rights appears to be a survival play for traditional sports broadcasters.
But will it end up being a win for sports fans? That remains to be seen as several questions will need to be answered over the coming months.
How Much Will ESPN and Fox’s New Streaming Service Cost?
While pricing has yet to be announced, ex-Fox Sports Networks president Bob Thompson told USA Today he expects it to cost more than $40 per month. It’s reasonable to expect that the package will fall under the $75-$80 per month threshold that subscriptions to internet pay-TV packages like Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV run, as they include all of the bundled channels in question in addition to other entertainment offerings.
Whatever the announced debut price comes in at, subscribers should expect a price hike after a year or two, as has become standard practice with streaming launches.
Will I Be Able To Watch The NFL on ESPN and Fox’s New Sports Streaming Service?
Viewers will be able to watch some, but not all, NFL games on the new service as NFL rights are spread across multiple broadcasters. Games aired on Fox, ABC, and ESPN — including Monday Night Football — will be found on the new streaming service. But CBS Sports holds the rights to some games, Sunday Night Football can only be found on NBC and Peacock, and Amazon Prime is the exclusive broadcaster for Thursday Night Football. Additionally, NFL Sunday Ticket is required to watch games not shown in your local area, which will run you an additional $299-$399 per season.
What Will Be Missing From ESPN and Fox’s New Sports Streaming Service?
Aside from NFL games not broadcast on ESPN, ABC, and Fox, the English Premier League is the biggest piece missing from the new streaming service. The world’s most popular soccer league is available only on NBC and Peacock through at least the 2027/28 season.
WNBA and NWSL fans will be able to watch some games offered by those leagues on the new service, but MLS fans will be totally out of luck as AppleTV is the exclusive broadcast partner for that particular league.
The looming question is how well NBA fans will be serviced by the new streaming package. Under the current rights deal, all national broadcasts can be found under the ESPN and Warner Brothers Discovery umbrella. But those rights are set to expire after next season and as such are currently up for negotiation.