Two House Democratic Lawmakers Again Press Disney, Fox And Warner Bros. Discovery For Info On Sports Streaming Service Venu

Two House Democrats again are expressing antitrust concerns about Venu, the upcoming sports streaming joint venture from Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery, and are seeking more answers from the companies.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) sent a new letter to the CEOs the three companies, following an earlier query in April. The media conglomerates responded to that letter, but Nadler and Castro wrote that the answers were “insufficient.”

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“Overall, we still have not received answers about the firewalls your companies may implement to
prevent collusion; the precautions you may take to ensure consumer privacy; or the methods you may use to determine pricing of the new service,” they wrote.

They added, “Some of the vague assurances you have provided strike us as contradictory. For example, we find it difficult to understand how your companies can both promise not to share competitively sensitive information and also evaluate the success of the joint venture on a company-by-company basis.”

They also pose a series of additional questions, and ask that answers be cc’d to the Justice Department, which reportedly plans to scrutinize the deal.

“Your companies exert unmatched control over the entire sports media ecosystem,” they wrote. “Without care, your joint venture has the potential to reshape this already-concentrated space to the detriment of consumers, sports leagues, and third-party distributors.”

Read Congress members’ Venu letter and companies previous response.

Representatives for the companies replied to the initial letter in late April, calling it a “pro-consumer, additive viewing option for sports viewers and increased choice for consumers across America.”

“Nothing will be exclusive to the new streaming service – every linear network available on this new streaming service will continue to be available to consumers across all existing methods, including traditional cable, satellite TV, and streaming video platforms like Hulu+Live and YouTubeTV,” they wrote.

They wrote that plans are to launch this fall, with the expectations that it will draw 1 million subscribers by the end of the year and 5 million within five years. No subscription price has been announced.

“Our respective companies will remain separate and independent and will continue to negotiate separately and independently with each distributor, including this new platform, regarding the carriage terms for each respective network. Nothing in the JV changes how we each negotiate carriage of our programming with other distributors,” they wrote.

They added, “This streaming service is not a merger. The joint venture (and not Disney, Fox or Warner Bros. Discovery) will negotiate on its own behalf with each platform and programmer separately for content to be distributed on the service.”

A representative for Vunu did not immediately return a request for comment.

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