Media Companies Plan a Sports-Free Streaming Service

A consortium of media companies are teaming up to provide a new streaming service targeted at customers who don’t want to pay for sports programming, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cable channels owned by Discovery Communications Inc. (DISCA), Viacom Inc. (VIAB), AMC Networks Inc. (AMCX), Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. (SNI) and A+E Networks, co-owned by Walt Disney (DIS) and Hearst, are expected to launch the new, non-sports, skinny streaming TV bundle in the coming weeks, people familiar with the situation told the Journal. The new service will be powered by Philo, the college-campus streaming specialist, and reportedly cost consumers less than $20 a month.

The plan is to launch Philo as a direct-to-consumer streaming service and then later convince established pay-TV providers to offer similar packages. Media companies were reportedly in talks with pay-TV distributors to create a new online TV service void of costly sport channels in April, according to Bloomberg. A month later, in May, Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav told analysts that U.S. television viewers should be able to access a skinny bundle costing about $10 a month with no sports, adding that it was only a matter of time before it happens.

The Journal’s sources report that Philo customers will receive a bundle of networks, including nonfiction and lifestyle programming, children’s fare and scripted dramas.

While the exact list of networks has yet to be determined, sources say the parent companies expect their core channels to be part of the service. Aside from its namesake channel, Discovery owns several others, including ID, TLC and Animal Planet. Meanwhile, Scripps, which Discovery is on the verge of acquiring, is the parent of channels including HGTV and Food Network. Viacom owns Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and BET, while AMC and A+E each have their own suites of networks.

The decision taken by these five media companies to join forces makes sense on several levels. Firstly, the frequent inclusion of sports programming in cable TV packages has attracted plenty of controversy as many of these channels are responsible for pushing up subscription costs. This situation has angered plenty of non-sport fans, who are forced to fork out extra for channels they have little interest in watching. (See also: How to Stop Paying Cable Bills and Save Money on TV.)

Furthermore, some of the companies behind this new, non-sports streaming service have been left out of popular skinny bundles offered by the likes of YouTube and Hulu. Banding together could help to increase their exposure, particularly if their non-sports offering strikes a chord with consumers. (See also: Streaming is Changing Everything about How Media Works.)

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