“Every Consumer In America Should Be Concerned”

Streaming pay-TV operator Fubo, after its stock plunged 23%, issued a statement blasting the new sports streaming venture involving Disney, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery.

Tuesday’s Disney-Fox-WBD news “has undoubtedly captured our attention,” the statement said. “Fubo has consistently championed the principle of consumer choice and we’re not surprised more sports streaming options are becoming available. We have already seen that a consortium born of historical competitors is a difficult undertaking, and streaming joint ventures rarely work. As well, we know sports-only programming is highly challenged.”

Fubo launched in 2015 as a sports-focused service before going on to add a broader range of programming. Its statement didn’t use words like “monopoly” or “antitrust” but it cast suspicion on the new bundle. The company’s stock closed Wednesday at $1.94, its lowest level since mid-2023, on five times its normal trading volume.

“The underlying motives and implication of this joint venture also command our scrutiny,” the company’s statement continued. “Every consumer in America should be concerned about the intent behind this joint venture and its impact on fair market competition. This joint venture spotlights a concerning trend where an alliance with significant market share, reportedly controlling 60-85% of all sports content, could dictate market terms in a manner that may not serve the broader interests of consumers.

“We believe our robust programming and quality product experience cannot be duplicated by what is likely to emerge from this joint venture.”

Numerous Wall Street analysts have expressed their initial views that the JV member companies are unlikely to draw regulatory scrutiny. Unlike streaming-only fare like NFL Thursday Night Football on Prime Video or a recent NFL playoff game streamed only on NBCUniversal’s Peacock, the content on the JV service will be available on both streaming and linear TV. Programming on the 14 linear networks to be offered via the streaming service is being licensed to the JV on a non-exclusive basis.

Fubo reported having 1.48 million subscribers as of the end of the third quarter. The service has managed to consistently increase its subscriber base despite the challenging economics of the pay-TV business and the exit or decline of many of the original stalwarts of the virtual MVPD marketplace. YouTube TV has taken a commanding lead in terms of scale among online pay-TV operators, disclosing on Tuesday that it has surpassed 8 million subscribers, accounting for nearly half of the vMVPD market.

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