Fubo just sued Disney, Fox and Warner Bros over its 'mega' sports streaming app

ESPN, Fox Sports and TNT Sports logos displayed side by side
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Earlier this month Fox, Warner Bros and Disney-owned ESPN announced they would be collaborating on a “mega” sports streaming service that would (hopefully) take a lot of the frustration out of streaming live sports. But it seems the trio are now having to deal with an antitrust lawsuit from Fubo.

Fubo is a “sports-first” streaming service best known for showing international sports and offering a huge range of channels. It’s pricey, but we like Fubo enough to include it on our list of the best streaming services and best cable TV alternatives. Needless to say, it's pretty obvious why it wouldn’t be happy about this new sports streaming conglomerate.

In a statement released by Fubo, it accuses Disney, Fox and Warner Bros of following a “a years-long campaign to block Fubo’s innovative sports-first streaming business." The company is claiming that restrictive licensing terms are anti-consumer practices, forcing customers to have to “pay more for highly popular sports content." Fubo is alleging mark ups of 30-50% higher than other distributors are charged. 

Fubo also claims that the three networks have forced Fubo to carry “dozens of expensive non-sports channels” if it wanted to offer access to sports. So Fubo claims that this new merging of sports streaming is just another attempt to push competitors out of the live sports market. 

It’s alleged that all three companies own half of the rights to live sports in the U.S., and by joining forces it means they put other, smaller sports streaming services at a major disadvantage. David Gandler, Co-founder and CEO of Fubo, said that “Simply put, this sports cartel blocked our playbook for many years and now they are effectively stealing it for themselves.”

The goal of the lawsuit is to try and level the playing field. That includes offering “equal treatment in terms of pricing and all relevant conditions” to ensure fair competition is possible. If that means blocking the partnership altogether, then so be it.

Access to live sports without cable is kind of a nightmare, what with the way rights are distributed across platforms — and that’s not a uniquely American issue. So you can understand why people would be interested in a service that offers a whole bunch of sports content in exchange for a single monthly fee.

At the same time, lack of competition rarely works out so well for consumers, since it allows big companies to do and charge whatever they like.

So it’s understandable that the ESPN/Warner Bros/Fox partnership would make companies like Fubo rather nervous. But whether their arguments will stand up to scrutiny in court is another matter entirely.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.