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Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Join Forces for Sports Streaming Service

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Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Join Forces for Sports Streaming Service

For years, the rising price of sports rights has been a major headache for media executives, who have watched viewers abandon traditional TV for streaming services even as their companies continue to pay up to broadcast games.

On Tuesday, Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery proposed a new offering that could keep them in business with some of those customers. The companies announced a streaming service that will feature games from the major professional leagues and college conferences, which they hope will attract sports fans who have abandoned cable.

The service will offer streaming subscribers all the channels owned by those companies that show sports, like ESPN, TNT and FS1, but also ABC and Fox. In addition to sports content, subscribers will be able to watch nonsports shows like “The Simpsons” and “The Bachelor” that are available on the channels. Subscribers will have access to 14 channels in total, as well as ESPN’s existing streaming service, ESPN+.

The price, name and executive team behind the service have not yet been determined. It is scheduled to launch in the fall.

Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at LightShed Partners, said in an interview that he was encouraged by the new service, which is likely to satisfy some sports viewers who are fed up with paying for traditional TV channels they don’t want. But he said the absence of companies like Paramount meant that die-hard fans still wouldn’t have access to a complete array of live sports.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mr. Greenfield said. “The question is: Is it enough?”

Sports fans will find games and matches from almost every major league on the app. In addition to National Football League and National Basketball Association games, the service will offer action from Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the PGA Tour, Grand Slam tennis, professional soccer, major college conferences and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

While this service goes a long way toward allowing sports fans to watch every game in a single app, it does not bundle all sports together. NBC, CBS and Amazon, in particular, have major rights — like many N.F.L. games, most major golf tournaments and the Olympics — that will not be a part of the service. Regional sports networks, where most fans still watch their local baseball, basketball and hockey teams, are also not included.

The service, which will also be supported by advertising, will be distinct from the companies’ other streaming services. Viewers will be offered the opportunity to bundle the new app with their existing subscriptions to services like Disney’s ESPN+ and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max.

Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery will each own a one-third stake of the new service and have equal board representation. They will license their sports content to the joint venture on a nonexclusive basis, allowing them to show games elsewhere, like on their linear networks.

For ESPN, this service is just one step in its transformation away from traditional television. Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, announced last year that the company planned to offer the flagship ESPN network as a stand-alone streaming offering by 2025. Disney is also having conversations with sports leagues about selling an equity stake in the network, and ESPN struck a $2 billion deal with Penn Entertainment last year to create ESPN Bet, an online sports betting brand.

Each company trumpeted the new service in a joint news release. Mr. Iger called it “an important step forward for the media business.” Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox Corporation, said the service was “a new and exciting platform.” David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, hailed the service’s “unparalleled combination of marquee sports rights.”

This is not the first time media companies have joined together on a venture to deal with the rise of streaming. In 2007, Fox and NBCUniversal teamed up to start Hulu, a streaming service that included shows from both companies. Hulu’s ownership structure has changed over the years, including the additions of Time Warner, Disney and, when it bought NBCUniversal, Comcast. Disney is now poised to buy out Comcast’s share of Hulu and own the entirety of the service, which has more than 48 million subscribers.

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