Sports television is very important to consumers. But it also costs a lot. The economic realities and changes in how customers consume content are causing television companies Viacom, Discovery Communications and AMC Networks to explore the possibility of starting a new online TV service for consumers who are looking for entertainment-only packages, and don’t wish to pay for the added benefit of receiving sports content.
Although talks are in the preliminary stages, the possibility of at least one service being introduced later this year is said to be possible. Channel owners have experienced significant losses due to consumers cutting the cord on expensive television programming in favor of more reasonable digital alternatives.
According to a report in Bloomberg News, a Sports-free TV option would be offered and cost less than $20 per month. That’s about half the price of YouTube’s new TV package, and Hulu’s upcoming live TV service. Both Hulu and YouTube offer roughly 40 channels, and include ESPN and other sports programming from NBC, Fox and CBS.
If television networks choose to move forward and introduce these new type of arrangements, it could cause serious tension with ESPN’s owner, the Walt Disney Company, and other major media companies such as 21st Century Fox. Existing agreements are in place to prevent situations like this, as Verizon found out two years ago when they tried to pursue selling a bundle called Custom TV. Disney countered with a lawsuit, which forced the mobile company to introduce two lower deals, one with sports channels and one without.
Another big mystery that remains is whether or not the appetite from consumers will be strong for TV packages that don’t include sports programming. The majority of people spend $80 per month or higher in order to have access to sports on television, and according to online TV providers Sling TV, YouTube TV, and Sony’s PlayStation Vue, live sports is in demand and a critical component of their packages.