A coalition of broadcasters, network carriers, and pressure groups, led by sports-focused streaming service FuboTV, have co-signed a letter to US politicians demanding hearings into the future of pay-TV sports competition in the country.

The letter, published by OTT service Fubo, called on members of Congress from the Senate Commerce Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee, House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the House Judiciary Committee, to hold hearings about pay-TV competitiveness.

The letter featured seven co-signatories, satellite broadcaster Dish Networks, TV carrier DirecTV, cable network Newsmax, and public interest groups Sports Fans Coalition, American Economic Liberties Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Open Markets Institute.

A primary driver behind the letter was the February announcement that pay-TV giants Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) would be teaming up to form a new joint venture sports streaming service with rights drawn from their collective libraries.

The letter to Congress states: “In addition to controlling 80% of all national live sports broadcasts, the [joint venture] will control approximately 55% of all live sports (regional and national). We cannot think of any scenario in the history of the United States where consumer interests have been served when such an important industry – here, access to live sports – is effectively controlled by three programming giants which decided to combine forces instead of competing against each other.

“Worse yet, these same programming giants enforce anticompetitive and inflationary contract restrictions on distributors that will insulate the JV’s streaming service from head-to-head competition because these contract restrictions prohibit competing distributors from offering consumers their own “skinny,” live sports bundle.

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“The JV will eventually dominate the distribution market for live sports and will drive out competition, leaving consumers captive to the JV for live sports – unless Congress and regulators intervene.

Fubo, which will doubtlessly be negatively affected by the service should it be released as planned in 2024, had opposed the joint venture.

Its situation was exacerbated this week (May 1) when Fubo revealed it had failed to secure a renewed agreement for licensing rights for a slate of WBD rights, including sports rights, alleging that WBD had acted in an “unfair and anti-competitive” fashion.

Fubo said in a strongly worded statement at the time that it had offered WBD “market rates” for the use of its content, but that WBD had not provided a counter-offer and instead continued to offer “above-market rates” for that same content, despite what Fubo claims were “efforts to negotiate in good faith."