FuboTV files lawsuit over ESPN, Fox, Hulu, Warner Bros. Discovery sports-streaming venture

FuboTV not only wants the proposed joint venture shut down, but it is seeking cash damages.

File photo: This Sept. 16, 2013, file photo shows the ESPN logo prior to an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Cincinnati.

ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced plans on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024 to launch a sports streaming platform in the fall that will include offerings from at least 15 networks and all four major professional sports leagues. (AP Photo/David Kohl, File)

Streaming service FuboTV has filed an antitrust lawsuit against ESPN, Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery and Hulu, which are planning to launch a sports-streaming venture in the fall.

The lawsuit has been filed in the Southern District of New York. FuboTV, which focuses primarily on live sports, is seeking a jury trial.

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the lawsuit.

“Each of these companies has consistently engaged in anticompetitive practices that aim to monopolize the market, stifle any form of competition, create higher pricing for subscribers and cheat consumers from deserved choice,” David Gandler, Co-founder and CEO of FuboTV, said in a statement. “Simply put, this sports cartel blocked our playbook for many years and now they are effectively stealing it for themselves.”

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ESPN, Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery and Hulu declined to comment about the lawsuit.

FuboTV says in its filing that it has tried for years to offer a sports-only streaming service but has been prevented from doing so because of ESPN. Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery has imposed bundling requirements on FuboTV which it says forces “Fubo to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to license and broadcast content that its customers do not want or need.”

“Faced with the threat of disruptive competition from Fubo and other upstarts, Defendants have responded by locking arms (and locking others out) to steal Fubo’s core business idea — a sports-centric package of channels — while blocking Fubo from offering that same package,” the company said in its court filing.

ESPN, Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery and Hulu announced their plans to offer a sports streaming service on Feb. 6. The three companies will each share one-third ownership in the joint venture. A name for the service and pricing will be announced at a later date.

FuboTV not only wants the proposed joint venture shut down, but it is seeking cash damages. If the court does not rule to do either, FuboTV is seeking restrictions on the joint venture so that competition remains in the marketplace.

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FuboTV was founded in 2015. In its most recent quarterly filing last November, it reported 1.48 million paid subscribers in North America for the third quarter, an all-time high for the company.

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