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DOJ could block ESPN, FOX and TNT merged sports app

The United States Department of Justice is planning to thoroughly examine a new proposed mega sports app.

It was revealed earlier this week that ESPN, FOX, and WarnerBros Discovery have plans to merge to create a single standalone sports streaming service.

Although an official timeline is not set, the trio are likely to join forces later this year.

Assuming it does eventually happen, the proposed app would feature thousands of hours of live sports all in one place. This, of course, includes a plethora of soccer content from all over the world. FOX’s upcoming coverage of the FIFA 2026 World Cup would undoubtedly be a key inclusion of the planned app.

Nevertheless, ESPN and TBS/TNT/Max (through WarnerBros Discovery) all have quality soccer lineups as well. LaLiga, Bundesliga, and select Major League Soccer matches would also be available on the app. The merged streaming service is also set to become the home of the UMSNT and USWNT, too. U.S. Soccer previously agreed an eight-year deal with WarnerBros Discovery’s Turner Sports.

U.S. government concerned over details of the proposed plan with ESPN, TNT and FOX

Nevertheless, the deal may not even come to fruition. According to a report by Bloomberg, United States federal government officials may end up blocking the deal before it hits the market. The news outlet claims that the Department of Justice is worried that the super app may harm users, sports leagues, and even rival broadcasting companies.

An app holding 55% of all U.S. sports rights by cost would seemingly be more convenient to those searching for games to watch. However, several experts claim that the deal will likely eventually drive up costs for consumers. The collective streaming service would lower the number of options for leagues to sell their media rights as well.

The Department of Justice has a history of fighting against broadcasting bundles in the past. Viacom’s Showtime and The Movie Channel previously attempted to join forces way back in 1983. At the time, the companies were two of the three leading paid cable channels in the country.

Government officials, however, threatened to sue the duo over the fine details in the deal. As a result, Showtime and The Movie Channel revised their plan to accommodate the Justice Department.

No final announcement regarding issue expected for months

The now 40-year-old fight over cable mergers is not exactly still a prime example on how to handle these deals. “We are skeptical that there is a clear antitrust case for blocking here,” claimed New Street Research analyst Blair Levin in recent days. “Still, the reactions of those hurt by the deal may ultimately lead to a government reaction, particularly to ensure that local sports remain available for free.”

Government officials will almost certainly comb through all of the details regarding the potential ESPN, FOX, and WarnerBros Discovery merger. Any final decision on possibly blocking the move will likely not be official until later this year.

The trio, however, are not the only media companies that want to form a partnership. Peacock and Paramount+ are also reportedly in negotiations regarding a merger as well. Once a deal is struck, the two apps would be under the same umbrella in the future.

Photo credits: IMAGO / Zoonar : IMAGO / Pond5 Images.