CBS, ESPN, Turner and the incoming sports streaming wars

Turner is arming its upcoming streaming service with its recently won UEFA soccer rights. (UEFA)

Livestreaming sports content is already abundant but in the near future, three huge media companies—CBS, Disney-owned ESPN and Turner (which could soon be owned by AT&T)—will go head-to-head with separate services.

ESPN’s plans have been in the works for some time but last week, Disney announced an expansion of its intents, including a $1.58 billion deal for a majority stake in BAMTech. CBS last week unveiled its plans for a sports streaming network to be launched later this year. Now this week, Turner has announced plans for its own sports streaming service to house its recently won UEFA soccer rights.

The market likely has room for each to operate and there could be some potential for consumers who opt for more than one of these upcoming services. But there’s also a chance that each service will be fighting for the same subscribers, which is certainly the more fun scenario to consider. So let’s take a look at how they stack up against each other.

CBS 24/7 sports streaming channel

CBS’s recently announced sports streaming channel will launch later this year and like CBSN, the company’s streaming news network, it will be offered as part of CBS All Access, which sells for $6 per month or $10 per month (commercial free).

CBS management did not get into specifics about what types of programming would be featured on its sports streaming channel, but CEO Les Moonves did note all the sports distribution deals CBS has in place.

“We have deals with the NFL, the NCAA, FCC football, PGA Tour Golf, lots of different areas. In addition, it’s in the very preliminary stages of formation. But CBS is a big player in the sports world. We are going to look to differentiate ourselves from the ESPN and the Fox Sports as well, and we think we have a good opportunity to succeed,” said Moonves, adding that the infrastructure already in place for CBSN will keep launch costs down for the sports channel.

“So the chances of profitability early on are very good.”

So CBS’s sports streaming service comes down to being a value add for All Access—a relatively inexpensive one at that—which could help push All Access toward its 4 million subscribers by 2020.

In CBS CFO Joe Ianniello’s opinion, that subscriber guidance may be looking too conservative now. But as Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar pointed out, it could be a while before margins improve.

“The company’s new guidance on digital subs appears to confirm this trajectory. However, the margin profile of this business is likely to be accretive only over time instead of upfront, which could explain some of the near-term margin pressure at Entertainment,” wrote Venkateshwar in a research note.

Odds it will succeed: Considering CBS’s sports streaming service is being attached to All Access, which is already on a fairly strong growth trajectory, the odds that this new service will stick around and at least drive incremental subscriber and/or ad revenue growth are high. Given all the nonsports content on All Access, the service also stands a good chance of being paired with other more sports-heavy services like ESPN and Turner in makeshift cord-cutter bundles.

ESPN’s direct-to-consumer streaming service

ESPN’s standalone streaming service has been a talking point for Disney management for quite some time now, but last week the company finally started to color in some of the details.

… read on at

Originally posted by Ben Munson