By Richard Chadwell
When Disney announced that it will purchase a fairly big portion of 21st Century Fox it marked a very important development for sports on TV and most likely streaming. While all the fanboys think of what the Marvel universe will look like completely intact Avengers vs. X-Men May 2021 but for Disney, the bigger question is what did it get in the way of sports? How could that affect the future of how you watch sports?
What Disney got in the deal with FOX is its 22 regional Fox Sports stations. Why is this important? Because virtually all NBA, NHL, and MLB teams have a contract to show a good portion of their games on their local Fox Sports Regional channel. So in essence what Disney has done for ESPN is that is has given them an incredible amount of live sports to actually offer.
In this day and age of television choice/fragmentation, nothing on TV is able to draw ratings like hit shows did in the past. Even the biggest shows on network television are watched by about ¼ of the population that used to watch the biggest show on television. While there has been some slippage in live sports ratings from in previous years, the shrinkage has been less perceptible. In fact, NBA ratings have been going up over the past few years. This means more consistent advertisers and money. As far as Major League Baseball, outside of Fox’s game of the week on Saturday night/afternoon depending on the time of year, and the Sunday Afternoon TBS, if you want to watch a regular season baseball game, you will watch it on ESPN or a Disney owned property, however it’s branded. Important to note, this merger as of yet does not affect the playoffs and World Series viewing.
For NBA and NHL fans, excluding TNT for basketball on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and The NHL game of the week on NBC platforms, Disney/ESPN will have the rest of the pie. This deal will also add even more coverage for NCAA Football and Basketball, along with a plethora of other sports. In essence, Disney has acquired almost all of the relevant live sports on TV.
How could all this affect the future? It could certainly help to further develop Disney’s previously announced ESPN direct to the sports offering. Think about it. Virtually any NBA, NHL, MLB game available on one app. More than anyone could watch at once and that doesn’t include NCAA basketball or football games. Roughly a million and a half people are willing to pay 9.99 per month to watch professional wrestling on an App, How much would you pay to watch virtually all the live sports you wanted?
The future of how we view sports could change forever.