Pete Distad, the experienced media, sports, and technology executive, has been named chief executive of the new joint venture (JV) sports streaming service of US media giants Fox, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD).

Distad will assume oversight of all aspects of the JV, including overall strategy, distribution, marketing, and sales.

Upon establishment of the JV, he will report to its board of directors, which will include representatives selected by each of the three companies. He will be based at the offices of the JV in Los Angeles, California, along with the independent management team he will assemble.

Distad most recently served as an executive at tech giant Apple for a decade following six years at subscription video-on-demand platform Hulu.

He worked at Apple from 2013 to 2023, where he was responsible for the business, operations, and global distribution for video, sports, and the Apple TV+ service.

During his tenure, he launched the new Apple TV platform in 2015 and later led teams that launched the Apple TV app, Apple TV+, and MLS Season Pass after Apple acquired global rights to that North American soccer league for 10 years in a $2.5-billion deal.

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At Hulu, (from 2007 to 2013) he served as senior vice president of marketing and distribution on the executive team. He was part of the original Hulu launch team, overseeing customer acquisition and retention, distribution, and marketing.

Before Hulu, Distad worked in various technology and management consulting roles, including at McKinsey and Company, Calence (now Insight), and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).

Distad has said: “This is an incredible opportunity to build and grow a differentiated product that will serve passionate sports fans in the US outside of the traditional pay-TV bundle.

“I’m excited to be able to pull together the industry-leading sports content portfolios from these three companies to deliver a new best-in-class service.”

In a joint statement, ESPN, Fox, and WBD added: “Pete is an accomplished innovator and leader who has extensive experience with launching and growing new video services. We are confident he and his team will build an extremely compelling, fan-focused product for our target market.”

The media heavyweights announced the formation of the JV streaming service last month (February).

The service, as yet unnamed, will combine the sports offerings of Fox’s Fox Sports channels, Disney’s ESPN set of channels, and WBD-owned TNT Sports, among other offerings.

Once active, the service will broadcast offerings from all the US’ major properties, namely American football’s NFL, baseball’s MLB, basketball’s NBA and WNBA, ice hockey’s NHL, soccer’s MLS, and motor racing's Nascar.

Golf’s PGA Tour, mixed martial arts promotion UFC, and soccer’s FIFA World Cup competition will all also be included, among other high-profile sports offerings.

The sports content will be licensed to the service by each of the three companies on a non-exclusive basis, allowing them to maintain their linear output streams.

The service is scheduled to launch in autumn 2024, with each of the three JV partners holding a third of the stake each, and having equal representation on the board.

It will all be contained on a new app built from the ground up, to which ESPN’s ESPN+ OTT service will also be included.

The launch of the streaming service could strike a major blow to the traditional cable TV services in the US. GlobalData’s ‘United States Pay-TV Forecast’ report found that total US pay-TV household penetration has fallen greatly, from 2009-2010 when penetration exceeded 85%, and will fall to around 32% in 2028.

There has already been some opposition to the new JV, with FuboTV, the live sports streaming service, filing a lawsuit against Disney, WBD, and Fox to block the planned launch.

New York-based Fubo alleges that the trio, as well as Disney-owned ESPN and Hulu, have “engaged in a years-long campaign to block Fubo’s sports-first streaming business resulting in significant harm to both Fubo and consumers.”

The complaint also alleges the launch of their streaming partnership “steals Fubo’s playbook” and violates antitrust laws.

The suit comes as the US Department of Justice reportedly prepares to investigate the planned streamer to ascertain whether the joint streaming platform breaches antitrust regulations.

Specifically, the department is looking at whether collecting the rights of such a wide range of major sports properties could potentially harm fans, the leagues themselves, and rival broadcast organizations.