Monday, June 24, 2024

ESPN, Fox, and Warner’s sports streaming app is giving cable

Key Takeaways

  • ESPN, Fox Sports, and Warner Bros are teaming up to launch a new live sports streaming service in the fall.
  • The service will include national broadcasts and playoff games from major sports leagues. The pricing has not been announced yet, but it is expected to be more expensive than the existing live TV streaming options.
  • This new sports streaming app would bring us closer to a cable-like experience, with the ability to channel-surf through multiple (but not all) games, potentially expensive monthly pricing, and no à la cart options. Is that a good thing?

ESPN, Fox Sports, and Warner Bros have announced they are partnering to create a new live TV streaming service that’s all about sports. It doesn’t have a name yet, but the platform will include the sports-centered channels each company owns, and the plan is to launch it in the fall.

It will have some big positives for sports fans, including the ability to finally stream ESPN’s live channels without cable or a live TV app like YouTube TV. However, with reports indicating ESPN is considering charging up to $30 for subscribers to stream its live TV channels separately, I have some questions, starting with whether this new super sports streaming option can live up to all the hype at that price.


How to get a YouTube TV free trial for the NFL playoffs (and cancel before it ends)

Take advantage of YouTube TV’s free trial promo and watch live TV and on-demand content for free, including live sports such as the NFL playoffs.

All the live sports you could want to watch

The four largest North American sports will feature most of their games on this new streaming service from ESPN, Fox, and Warner Bros.

That includes National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Baseball (MLB) games. The key here is it’s not every game from these leagues, just the national broadcasts and the playoff games. There will also be plenty of National Football League (NFL) games on the service, including four of the next five Super Bowls and the 2026 World Cup.

The new service will feature other sports, too, like PGA Tour golf, NASCAR, college football and basketball, and professional tennis.

Games to expect

Here’s a full list of all the live events that will be available:

  • Pro Football: NFL and UFL
  • Basketball: NBA and WNBA
  • Baseball: MLB
  • Hockey: NHL
  • College Sports: Thousands of games and events across multiple sports, including the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments and The College Football Playoff
  • Golf: PGA Tour and PGA Championship, The Masters, and TGL (The Golf League)
  • Grand Slam Tennis: Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open
  • Cycling: Giro d’Italia, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, and Giro Donne
  • Soccer: FIFA World Cup, US Soccer NWSL, MLS, La Liga, Bundesliga, UEFA, and CONCACAF
  • Combat Sports: UFC and Top Rank
  • Auto: Formula 1, NASCAR, and 24 Hours of Le Mans

No à la carte options

Subscribers won’t have à la carte options, where they can choose to only subscribe to ESPN or Fox channels. It will feature live channels such as ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNews, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, and truTV, and it’s being billed as an all-in-one service by offering all these channels. But most of those channels struggle to draw eyeballs when there isn’t a live sporting event.

“It’s being billed as an all-in-one service… but most of those channels struggle to draw eyeballs when there isn’t a live sporting event.”

Each of the three companies — ESPN, Fox Sports, and Warner Bros — will own a third of the streaming service and have equal seating on the board of their new venture. They said the service will be run by an independent management team, but subscribers can access all three of the companies’ live-streaming sports content for one fee, and they will be able to bundle it with existing ESPN+, Hulu, and Max subscriptions.

Vibrant neon-themed collage that encapsulates the spirit of live sports broadcasting across various sports, emphasizing the excit


How much will the new sports streaming service cost?

Sports streaming can quickly become an expensive hobby, so the price here will really be a major pro or con for this new sports streaming service. Unfortunately, a price wasn’t announced yet, and guessing one isn’t straightforward.

Max is currently offering access to live sporting events that are normally available on Warner Bros-owned channels. You can stream these games via the Max app for a $9.99 per month subscription. For ESPN and Fox Sports, this new sports streaming venture will be the first time their sports channels will be available to stream outside the cable-like live TV streamers such as YouTubeTV.

While you might think separating the sports channels from all the cable channels you don’t want would save you money, the sports channels are the most expensive parts of your cable package. One of the reasons ESPN and Fox have been reluctant to stream their sports is because they can’t or won’t offer them at a cheaper price without undercutting what cable providers are currently asking from their own customers.

Cable is still a valuable revenue stream for all these companies. They won’t ruin it by chasing streaming. According to the Athletic, ESPN has flirted with the idea of adding their live channels to its ESPN+ streaming app, but for a $25 to $30 monthly subscription.

Add it all up, and this new sports streaming service will be more expensive than what people might expect. If it costs $30 a month, it can still be a great deal for fans who are only interested in sports. You could also supplement with Paramount+ and Peacock subscriptions throughout the year, to get additional sporting events that NBC and CBS have the rights to stream. (Both those subscriptions start at $5.99 per month.)

Even Apple TV and Amazon Prime now broadcast games.

“You’ll still need to flip between live TV streaming apps… which is super annoying on NFL Sundays.”

You’ll still need to flip between live TV streaming apps in this case, which is super annoying on NFL Sundays or for upcoming events that coincide (like March Madness and the Masters golf tournament). In my opinion, if the new service is more expensive than $30, existing live TV streaming options will look a lot more palatable, especially when you can watch four games at once with YouTubeTV’s multiview feature.


How to use YouTube TV’s multiview feature to watch four streams at once

The easiest way to simultaneously stream multiple sports games on one TV is with YouTube TV using its multiview feature. Here’s how it works.

For comparison, YouTubeTV is currently the best bet for sports fans looking to stream every game. It costs $72.99 per month in the US, but it includes access to every other sporting event you’d see on cable, including games on NBC and CBS, as well as features like the ability to watch multiple broadcasts at once, a full line-up of live TV channels with limitless recording, and a catalog of films and shows to stream.

Neon sign contrasting cable sports broadcasting and streaming sports services. The left half should feature symbols of cable sport


Do we even need something like this?

The ability to quickly flip between games like you can with cable is important to sports fans, but one-place sports streaming doesn’t exist, and it still won’t even with this service, because we’d be missing NBC and CBS broadcasts.

A new ESPN, Fox Sports, and Warner Bros streaming app would bring us closer to a cable-like experience, with the ability to channel-surf through multiple (but not all) games, potentially expensive monthly pricing, and no à la cart options. So, is that a good thing?

“This very much feels like a repackaging of the sports section of your old-school cable package.”

Yes, this is an exciting time for cord-cutters, who will be able to easily stream ESPN and Fox Sports live games and more, but this very much feels like a repackaging of the sports section of your old-school cable package. Not a lot of choice, and yet another thing to pay monthly.


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