The NFL is a crucial part of cable TV

Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery are teaming up to launch a sports streaming service.This isn’t going to be second-tier content like on ESPN+. It’s the big one.It could end up killing cable TV.

Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery are preparing to launch an “all-in-one premier” sports streaming service that will bring practically all of cable TV’s marquee sports to a direct-to-consumer offering.

Each company would own one-third of the new joint venture, which they plan to launch later this year.

By subscribing, “fans would have access to the linear sports networks including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as ESPN+.”

This service won’t have “everything.”

There will still be sports programming that isn’t on it. CBS and NBC aren’t part of it, for instance, but their NFL games air on broadcast TV — so really, all you need is a digital antenna. They also have some sports on the streaming services Peacock and Paramount+. That said, it really seems like this new service will include all the major sports offerings on cable TV.

There are a few things we don’t know yet. Price is a big one. But if it’s priced in a reasonable way — and it’s hard to see why it wouldn’t be, given it’s such a big bet for these companies — it truly represents an existential threat to cable TV.

Cord cutting has been gradually chipping away at the cable TV ecosystem for years. It’s a medium that appears in terminal, if slow, decline.

With the rise of streaming services like Netflix, entertainment programming — think dramas, comedies, etc. — began to move to the on-demand, non-bundle world. Basically, all your favorite TV shows are now on streaming.

But sports and news have been keeping viewers tied to the bundle. Now, with this new streaming service, there’s a huge chance that sports fans might feel they can cut the cord for good.

The loss of sports fans would be bad in itself. But it’s made even worse by the fact that cable news — the other pillar of live programming and the bundle — is just not something young people care about.

The median age of viewers watching cable TV news last year stood at 67 for CNN, 68 for Fox News, and 71 for MSNBC, per S&P Global Market Intelligence data. That is, in a word, old! And it’s hard to see how cable news can meaningfully reverse that trend. Talk to the young people in your life. They just aren’t interested.

This all could mean a meaningful acceleration of cord-cutting into a real death spiral in the upcoming years.

But don’t cry too much yet for the cable TV companies.

Last year, in a dispute with Disney, Charter, one of the biggest cable companies in the US, called the cable TV model broken and said it was willing to walk away entirely. Charter and the other cable giants have been preparing for this future for a long time, and they have a plan. They are just going to keep selling you internet. It’s a better business anyway.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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