Fubo's fight with Warner Bros. Discovery intensifies

Fubo, a sports-focused streaming TV service, has dropped several Warner Bros. Discovery channels, including Discovery, amid claims that WBD wants 'above-market rates' and has refused to license sports content separately.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

May 1, 2024

2 Min Read
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Fubo, the sports-focused streaming television service, is dropping several Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) channels amid a carriage dispute. That dust up also takes shape as Fubo fights a plan by WBD, Disney and Fox to develop and launch a sports streaming service.

Fubo said Tuesday it has attempted and failed to renew carriage of WBD channels, including Discovery, HGTV, Food Network and TLC, causing those networks to drop from the streaming service's lineup on Tuesday (April 30) afternoon. Fubo said it also has sought to secure rights for WBD's stable of Turner networks with sports programming – TNT TBS and truTV – but said those efforts have also fallen short.

Fubo said it has offered market rates for that programming, but claims WBD has refused to provide a counteroffering, instead insisting on continuing to offer Fubo "above-market rates for its content."

"Fubo views Warner Brothers Discovery's refusal to engage in good faith negotiations as another example of its abuse of massive market power that ultimately limits consumer choice," Fubo said in a statement.

In response, WBD told Variety that "[w]e have been and remain ready and willing to work diligently with Fubo to reach a fair market agreement. We proposed an extension of our current agreement, with no changes or price increases, that would allow Fubo to continue carrying these networks, and it is unfortunate that Fubo has decided to alienate their own customers in this way."

WBD-Disney-Fox sports streaming service looms

This impasse arises amid a proposed joint venture of WBD, Disney and Fox that's focused on developing a sports-focused streaming package that's expected to launch this fall and feature more than a dozen channels and ESPN+. The JV has not announced expected pricing, but some analysts expect it to cost around $40 per month.

But the proposed JV is catching plenty of heat. Fubo filed an antitrust lawsuit, alleging that the JV could harm competition and raise consumer prices. Bloomberg reported in February that the US Department of Justice intends to review the JV in order to determine its potential harm on consumers, other media companies and sports leagues. Last month, a pair of US government representatives asked the CEOs of the JV members – Disney's Bob Iger, Fox's Lachlan Murdoch and WBD's David Zaslav – to answer a laundry list of questions about the venture. They set a deadline to receive answers by April 30, 2024.  

"Warner Bros. Discovery has also denied our customers the choice of subscribing to their Turner sports content separately from Discovery content through a more affordable skinny sports bundle," Fubo said in its Tuesday statement. "Yet Warner Bros. Discovery has announced that it plans to make this must-have content available in its forthcoming sports streaming joint venture with The Walt Disney Company and FOX Corp."

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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