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Well, this could be what finally kills cable TV

NFL logo painted on turf
The NFL is a crucial part of cable TVKevin Sabitus / Getty Images
  • Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery are teaming up to launch a sports streaming service.

  • This isn't going to be second-tier content like on ESPN+. It's the big one.

  • It could end up killing cable TV.

Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery are preparing to launch an "all-in-one premier" sports streaming service that will bring a huge chunk of cable TV's marquee sports to a direct-to-consumer offering.

Each company would own one-third of the new joint venture, which they plan to launch later this year.

Per a press release, by subscribing, "fans would have access to the linear sports networks including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as ESPN+."

This service won't have "everything."

There will still be sports programming that isn't on it. CBS and NBC aren't part of it, for instance, but their NFL games air on broadcast TV. So really, all you need is a digital antenna, and you can watch them for free. They also have much of their sports offerings on their streaming services Peacock and Paramount+. That said, this new service will include most of the major sports programming on cable TV — though it's good to note that many people access broadcast channels through their cable packages, and it could be a bridge too far for most of them to buy (and use) a digital antenna for NFL games on CBS and NBC.

There are also a few things we don't know yet. Price is a big one. But if it's priced in a reasonable way — and it's hard to see why it wouldn't be, given it's such a big bet for these companies — it truly represents an existential threat to cable TV.

Cord-cutting has been gradually chipping away at the cable TV ecosystem for years. It's a medium that appears in terminal, if slow, decline.

With the rise of streaming services like Netflix, entertainment programming — think dramas, comedies, etc. — began to move to the on-demand, non-bundle world. Basically, all your favorite TV shows are now on streaming.

But sports and news have been keeping many viewers tied to the bundle. Now, with this new streaming service, there's a chance that at least some sports fans might feel they can cut the cord for good (especially if they can work a digital antenna, or already subscribe to Peacock and Paramount+).

The loss of sports fans would be bad in itself. But it's made even worse by the fact that cable news — the other pillar of live programming and the bundle — is just not something young people care about.

The median age of viewers watching cable news last year stood at 67 for CNN, 68 for Fox News, and 71 for MSNBC, per S&P Global Market Intelligence data. For a median age that is, in a word, old! And it's hard to see how cable news can meaningfully reverse that trend. Talk to the young people in your life. They aren't interested.

This all could mean an acceleration of cord-cutting into a real death spiral in the upcoming years.

But don't cry too much yet for the cable TV companies.

Last year, in a dispute with Disney, Charter, one of the biggest cable companies in the US, called the cable TV model broken and said it was willing to walk away entirely. Charter and the other cable giants have been preparing for this future for a long time, and they have a plan. They are just going to keep selling you internet. It's a better business anyway.

Read the original article on Business Insider