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chiefs-screenshot.jpg

The Sports Streaming Bundle from Disney/WB/Fox Feels Like the Death of Cable

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 7, 2024 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 7, 2024 |


chiefs-screenshot.jpg

Several in our work Slack last night suggested that cable probably won’t go away until the Boomers die off, but the announcement yesterday of a new streaming bundle essentially eliminated the need for cable to those who are still hanging on. Fox, Disney/ESPN, and WB (TBS/TNT) are combining their sports offerings into one Hulu-like streaming bundle expected to launch before the fall when the NFL returns. That bundle essentially includes almost every major sporting event, save for CBS’s Sunday NFL games and NBC’s Sunday night games, although those are available for streamers on Paramount+ and Peacock, respectively. The new venture will bring 14 linear networks into the package, which can be purchased along with Max, Hulu, or ESPN+.

For many, sports is the only thing that has kept customers tethered to cable, and this bundle finally removes that need. The only other reason to subscribe to cable would be Fox News and MSNBC, although the latter will probably move to Peacock soon, as CNN has moved to Max. Lachlan Murdoch, nevertheless, doesn’t think the sports bundle will hurt the Fox News business, which has already seen revenue decline by 20 percent over the last year due to fewer viewers. Lachlan Murdoch is wrong. People will pay $15 a month to watch the Kansas City Chiefs. Even the most hardcore fan, however, will not pay $75 a month to watch Sean Hannity.

A number of questions remain, such as: How much will the bundle cost? How will the proceeds be split among the studios, and will they eventually bring in Paramount and Peacock to complete the sports package? Otherwise, it seems like a no-brainer. Each of the studios can split the subscription fees according to their contributions, and since it’s sports, all the ads (and the revenue from them) remain intact. It can only mean more viewers, which means more ad revenue.

The big question I have, however, is if Fox/TNT/TBS/ESPN/ABC sports offerings are made available on the streaming bundle, will the entire linear network be available to watch live, too? There is still the odd live awards ceremony on Fox or ABC that the cable cutters among us cannot watch until the next morning, and it would be nice to be able to engage with those as they air, as well.