Business Standard

Streaming deal among Fox, Warner, Disney faces scrutiny

- LEAH NYLEN & TODD SHIELDS 16 February

The Justice Department plans to scrutinise the new streaming service proposed by Walt Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery over concerns it could harm consumers, media rivals and sports leagues.

Regulators will look at terms of the joint venture once it is finalised, according to two people familiar with the process. The companies haven’t been notified of the impending review and it may not lead to any action, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a confidenti­al review.

Disney, Fox and Discovery announced the new streaming service earlier this month that would combine content from Disney’s ESPN and ABC networks, Fox, and Warner channels including TNT and TBS. Citi analysts estimated the venture would control about 55 per cent of US sports rights by cost, or about $14.4 billion of the $26.7 billion spent in 2024.

The companies’ say they aim to draw in viewers who don’t subscribe to a pay-television bundle — and offer them sports programmin­g available on traditiona­l cable packages. The deal, however, has already drawn objections from smaller cable providers and at least one Internet TV service that complains it will ultimately drive up prices.

The deal “reduces the number of options” for sports leagues to sell their rights, said Steve Salop, an emeritus antitrust professor at Georgetown Law School. The Justice Department declined to comment.

The new offering would let viewers watch hundreds of hours of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball League, the National Hockey League, Nascar and college basketball in one place.

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New offering would let viewers watch hundreds of hours of major leagues in one place

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