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Fubo Ups Lobbying Efforts Against Pending Sports Streaming App JV

Fubo Ups Lobbying Efforts Against Pending Sports Streaming App JV

Online sports-themed TV service Fubo has joined eight media distributors in a joint letter sent to U.S. Congressional lawmakers urging them to hold hearings on the future of pay-TV in the era of streaming, including the pending launch of a sports-themed JV app by Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery.
 
Fubo was joined by satellite operators Dish Networks, DirecTV, the conservative streaming platform Newsmax, and public interest groups Sports Fans Coalition, American Economic Liberties Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Open Markets Institute.
 
“Recent developments in the pay-TV market, including the programming giants’ new joint venture, a streaming TV service that would control 80% of national live sports broadcasts, raise serious competition concerns that call for Congress’s immediate oversight,” read the letter addressed to Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.).
 
Collectively, the lawmakers head the commerce and judiciary committees in the House and Senate.
 
Fubo and other signees, contend that the JV will control about 55% of all live sports, including regional and national events. Indeed, next year’s Super Bowl will be broadcast on Fox.
 
“We cannot think of any scenario in the history of the U.S. where consumer interests have been served when such an important industry — access to live sports — is effectively controlled by three programming giants, which decided to combine forces instead of competing against each other,” read the letter.
 
Last month, Nadler and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch and David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, citing concerns of possible negative consumer impact and anti-competitive behavior as a result of the JV app.
 
In February, Fubo filed an antitrust lawsuit against Disney, Fox and WBD, alleging the companies have engaged in a years-long campaign to block its streaming business.
 
In response, the three JV partner companies — ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery — issued a statement denying that the pending app is anti-consumer.
 
“The service is a pro-consumer offering to a segment of viewers who currently aren’t served,” the companies said. “It will expand consumer choice by creating an incremental, nonexclusive option for this segment of viewers to watch their favorite sports.”
 
Separately, streaming/pay-TV competitors Comcast (which owns the Peacock service) and Paramount Global (Paramount+) question the impact of the JV, arguing it would have limited access to live sports.
 
“For the true sports fan, this product only has a subset of sports. It’s missing half the NFL, a lot of college, has virtually no soccer or golf. It’s hard to believe that’s ideal, especially at the price points that have been speculated,” former Paramount CEO Bob Bakish said back in February.
 
 

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