A skinnier sports bundle, free Super Bowl streaming

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This week on TechHive: Disney, Fox, and Warner blow up the bundle

Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Fox have a plan to make sports streaming less of a hassle, one that involves offering a new kind of pay TV bundle.

This fall, the three companies will launch a new streaming service that bundles all their respective sports programming. The package will include 13 broadcast and cable channels—among them ABC, ESPN, Fox, and TNT—and promises to cost less than a typical cable bundle or live TV streaming service. (Speculation is that it’ll cost between $40 and $50 per month, with additional promos for new subscribers.)

But the biggest news here is what the companies didn’t explicitly announce: For the first time ever, they’ll be splitting off sports and broadcast channels from the rest of their cable channel lineups. This is uncharted territory for TV networks, and it might finally blow up the pay TV bundle as we know it.

Read the full column on TechHive →

Weekly rewind

An ESPN streaming update: The forthcoming bundle with Warner and Fox hasn’t changed Disney’s plan to launch a standalone streaming version of the ESPN, though it’s not happening until 2025.

Whereas the existing ESPN+ mostly offers sports programming that isn’t on cable, Disney also wants to offer a full ESPN substitute for folks who’ve abandoned pay TV bundles. It’ll presumably be pricier than ESPN+ (which now costs $11 per month), but little else is known about the service except that it’s coming—eventually.

Disney+ paid sharing: In other Disney news, the company will start charging extra for password sharing later this year as it tries to counter a decline in subscribers. The company recently updated its terms of service across Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ to forbid password sharing with anyone outside your immediate household, and will start alerting apparent rule-breakers over the summer. Paid sharing options will arrive after that.

Disney hasn’t named a price for paid sharing or made its enforcement mechanisms clear, though it’ll likely look similar to Netflix’s system, which monitors users’ IP addresses and throws up warnings after prolonged out-of-home TV usage. Netflix sells an $8 per month “paid sharing” plan for users who don’t want to cut off remote viewing or deal with switching up their home location.

Paramount’s cable apps vanish: Cable subscribers can no longer access dedicated apps for Comedy Central, MTV, and Paramount Network, as Paramount has shut them down due to low usage. The apps were part of an industry initiative called “TV Everywhere,” which lets pay TV subscribers log into individual network apps to watch live and on-demand programming.

The concept is falling out of favor as more people switch to live TV streaming services, use their cable providers’ own apps, or give up pay TV channels entirely. Fox also shut down its TV Everywhere app last year.

Still, the shut down is a bummer for Channels DVR enthusiasts who’ve been piping TV Everywhere feeds into their home media servers. Getting those channels back requires increasingly elaborate workarounds.

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Save more money

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that T-Mobile is now offering Hulu for free, but only with its most expensive Go5G Next plan. The company has now clarified to me that “most” customers on its cheaper Go5G Plus, Magenta Max, and T-Mobile One Plus plans should get this offer as well.

If that’s you, keep an eye out for an email from T-Mobile with instructions on how to get free Hulu. You can also call 611 to clarify whether you’re eligible.

Other notable deals:

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As always, I hope the streaming and over-the-air TV gods are on your side if you’re watching the Super Bowl on Sunday—and especially if you’re hosting a party, as I am.

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