April 14, 2024

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FuboTV has filed a lawsuit against Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros.  And others, under the pretext of anti-competitive practices

FuboTV has filed a lawsuit against Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. And others, under the pretext of anti-competitive 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 continue to do so through a built-in sports streaming app it plans 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 lawsuit, FuboTV, which has been in business since 2015, alleges that the two companies engaged in a campaign that suppressed competition in the U.S. sports-focused streaming market causing harm to FuboTV, its customers and the two companies' joint venture. The project will continue to suppress competition. Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. have announced Discovery announced this month that it will team up to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming app that allows customers to pay for access to all the sports they stream across 14 built-in linear channels.

“Rather than compete, Defendants chose to collude — giving their own league, and no one else, the ability to market and sell a package centered around live sports,” FuboTV alleges in the lawsuit. “They have thus ensured that their combined entity will not face effective competition. They are now harming and threatening to further harm competition and consumers in the United States.”

FuboTV says companies forced it to accept bundling requirements to be able to stream certain content and charged above-market licensing fees — resulting in higher prices for consumers. FuboTV said in the lawsuit that the companies' conduct was a way to frustrate Fubo's business and growth.

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By forming the joint venture, Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery “freezes” streaming competitors and incentivizes them not to provide premium content to Fubo and others, FuboTV alleges in the lawsuit.

Fubo is asking the court to issue a permanent injunction to prevent the joint venture from operating, and to order the three companies to break up the joint venture.

“For decades, Defendants have used their iron grip on sports content to extract billions of dollars in competitive profits from distributors and consumers,” the complaint states. “Defendants earned many of these profits by ‘bundling’ commercially important sports content with other unwanted content – ​​forcing sports fans to purchase channels they did not want or need to receive the Defendants’ sports content.”

The joint venture between the three companies shook the sports TV ecosystem when it was announced. Between them, Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery has the national broadcast rights to the NBA and NHL, along with a slew of NFL, MLB and NCAA Tournament games, among other sports. FuboTV claims the companies are violating antitrust laws by combining one streaming app.

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“(The joint venture) will significantly reduce and mitigate competition by facilitating horizontal collusion among Defendants, who collectively control access to the most commercially important sports content in the United States,” the lawsuit states. “With the joint venture, the defendants have aligned their interests and would have the opportunity and incentive to collude when it comes to licensing necessary sports content to third-party distributors.

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(Photo: Jakub Purzycki/Getty Images)