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Venu Sports: Fox, Disney & WBD sports streaming service gets a name

Can we all stop calling it "Spulu" now, please?

Can we all stop calling it "Spulu" now, please?

The sports-focused joint venture organized by Fox Corporation, the Walt Disney Company’s ESPN and Warner Bros Discovery’s (WBD) TNT Sports has settled on Venu Sports as the name of a forthcoming streaming service that will include their sports-heavy linear networks.

The name will also be used to describe the joint venture itself, which is operating through a subsidiary of Fox called Rookie Enterprises, according to California state records reviewed by The Desk. The media industry affectionately dubbed the service “Spulu,” a portmanteau of the words “sports” and Hulu,” and The Desk previously reported the name “Hulu Sports” was on a short list for consideration.

“We are excited to officially introduce Venu Sports, a brand that we feel captures the spirit of an all-new streaming home where sports fans outside the traditional pay TV ecosystem can experience an incredible collection of live sports, all in one place,” Pete Distad, the CEO of Venu Sports, said in a statement on Thursday. “As preparations for the platform continue to accelerate, we are singularly focused on delivering a best-in-class product for our target audience, built from the ground up using the latest technologies to engage and entertain discerning sports fans wanting one-stop access to live games.”

Disney, ESPN and TNT Sports announced their partnership back in February. In the announcement, the three broadcasters said the joint venture would develop, market and launch a sports-inclusive streaming service that includes their broadcast and cable networks, including Fox, ABC, ESPN, TNT, TBS and Fox Sports 1.

As described, Venu Sports will be unique in that it brings those sports-inclusive networks to streamers beyond a traditional pay TV bundle. The service won’t include channels like CNN, Cartoon Network, FX or National Geographic, which cable and satellite providers are typically required to carry as a condition of offering each programmer’s sports channels.

The partnership immediately drew complaints and a legal challenge from Fubo, a sports-inclusive streaming service that carries Fox and Disney’s networks — and used to carry WBD’s channels — under arrangements that are similar to deals cable and satellite companies are forced to make with the broadcasters. Fubo says the programmers are carving out more-favorable terms for Venu Sports by allowing the service to carry only sports channels. Fubo says it would like those same carriage terms, but the broadcasters don’t offer them to third parties.

Fubo filed a federal lawsuit on antitrust grounds a few short weeks after the joint venture was announced. The company has asked a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction that would prevent Venu Sports from launching while the case is being heard. The judge overseeing the case has scheduled a hearing on the matter for early August.

On Thursday, Fubo CEO David Gandler reposted a comment made by a user on X (formerly Twitter) that noted the Venu Sports logo “looks familiar, like a Fubo logo.”

“You think?” Gandler expressed in his reply.

Venu Sports’ own website says the service launch is contingent upon a few things, including the joint venture gaining regulatory approval to move the service forward. No date has been set, though court records in the Fubo antitrust case suggest the broadcasters are hoping to launch in time for the start of the National Football League’s (NFL) regular season, which is early September. Preliminary launch dates of mid- to late-August have been discussed among the trio, the court records reveal.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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