FuboTV sues Disney, Fox, Warner Bros. and others, alleging anticompetitive practices

FuboTV, a live TV streaming platform, has launched a civil lawsuit against Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery, alleging that the media companies have engaged in anticompetitive practices for years and that they are continuing to do so through the combined sports streaming app they intend to launch later this year, according to court documents.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, also names ESPN and Hulu as defendants.

In the suit, FuboTV, which has been in business since 2015, alleges that the companies have engaged in a campaign that has resulted in suppressed competition in the U.S. sports-focused streaming market causing harm to FuboTV and its customers and the companies’ latest joint venture will continue to suppress competition. Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced this month that they would collaborate to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming app that would allow customers to pay for access to all of the sports they broadcast across 14 combined linear channels.

“Instead of competition, Defendants have chosen collusion — giving their own cartel, and no one else, the ability to market and sell a live-sports-centric package,” FuboTV alleges in the lawsuit. “They have thus ensured that their combined entity will not face effective competition. They are now harming, and threaten further harm, to United States competition and consumers.”

FuboTV says the companies have forced it to accept bundling requirements to be able to broadcast certain content and imposed licensing fees above the market rate — which has led to higher prices for consumers. The companies’ behavior, FuboTV said in the lawsuit, was a way to stymie Fubo’s business and growth.

In forming the joint venture, Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery will effect a “freeze-out” of streaming competitors and incentivize them to not offer premium content to Fubo and others, FuboTV alleges in the lawsuit.

Fubo asks the court for a permanent injunction to prevent the joint venture from operating, and to order the three companies to unwind the joint venture.

“For decades, Defendants have leveraged their iron grip on sports content to extract billions of dollars in supra-competitive profits from distributors and consumers,” the complaint said. “Defendants earned many of these profits by “bundling” their commercially critical sports content with other, less desirable content — forcing sports fans to purchase channels they did not want or need in order to receive Defendants’ sports content.”

The joint venture between the three companies shook up the sports television ecosystem when it was announced. Between them, Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery own the rights to NBA and NHL national broadcasts, along with a good number of NFL, MLB and NCAA Tournament games, among other sports. FuboTV alleges that the companies are violating antitrust laws by combining on one streaming app.


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“The (joint venture) will substantially lessen and soften competition by facilitating horizontal collusion between Defendants, who collectively control access to most commercially critical sports content in the United States,” the lawsuit said. “With the JV, Defendants have aligned their interests and will have the opportunity and incentive to collude when it comes to licensing must-have sports content to third-party distributors.

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(Photo: Jakub Porzycki / Getty Images)

Read More:FuboTV sues Disney, Fox, Warner Bros. and others, alleging anticompetitive practices

2024-02-21 15:56:23

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