FuboTV sues Disney, Fox, Warner Bros. over sports joint venture

FuboTV suing to block ESPN, Warner Bros. and Fox joint streaming service

Sports streaming platform FuboTV is suing Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery over their recently announced joint venture, citing what the company calls “extreme suppression of competition in the U.S. sports-focused streaming market,” according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by CNBC.

The joint venture, announced earlier this month, aims to offer viewers a new way to access marquee live sports. It’s slated to roll out this fall, but several questions remain around its pricing and structure.

“These horizontal competitors are colluding to create a JV that will cause substantial harm to competition and consumers,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit also names Disney-owned ESPN and Hulu as defendants.

“Each of these companies has consistently engaged in anticompetitive practices that aim to monopolize the market, stifle any form of competition, create higher pricing for subscribers and cheat consumers from deserved choice,” FuboTV CEO David Gandler said in a statement. “By joining together to exclusively reserve the rights to distribute a specialized live sports package, we believe these corporations are erecting insurmountable barriers that will effectively block any new competitors from entering the market.”

A spokesperson for the joint venture declined to comment.

Rafael Henrique | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Fubo argues Disney, Fox and Warner Bros., which control a significant portion of live sports content in the U.S., imposed bundling requirements and “significantly above-market licensing fees” on Fubo, inflating prices for consumers.

Now, their new joint venture allows the media companies to undercut those prices and avoid the same restrictions on what channels they have to carry, granting them a competitive edge, the lawsuit alleges.

As recently as last week, the joint venture was raising eyebrows in the traditional pay-TV market, with leaders of major distributors privately voicing concerns that the new skinny bundle would drive up cable TV cancellations, CNBC’s Alex Sherman reported.

Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said at the time antitrust challenges were likely.

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