FuboTV sued Disney, Fox, Warner Bros. and others alleging anti-competitive practices.

Live TV streaming platform FuboTV has launched a civil lawsuit against Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery, alleging that the media companies have engaged in anti-competitive practices for years and continue to do so through their integrated sports streaming app. It plans to begin later this year, according to court documents.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, names ESPN and Hulu as defendants.

In the suit, FuboTV, which has been in business since 2015, alleges that the companies engaged in campaigning that resulted in stifling competition in the US sports-based streaming market to the detriment of FuboTV and its customers and the companies' recent joint ventures. Efforts to stifle competition will continue. Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced this month that they are collaborating to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming app that will allow customers to pay for all sports broadcast on 14 integrated linear channels.

“Instead of competition, Defendants have chosen to collude — providing their own cartel, and no one else, with the ability to market and sell a live-sports-focused package,” the FuboTV lawsuit alleges. “They have ensured that their combined entity will not face effective competition. They are now harming, and threatening to harm, America's competition and consumers.”

FuboTV forced companies to accept bundling requirements to broadcast certain content and imposed license fees above the market rate – leading to higher prices for consumers. The companies' conduct, FuboTV said in the lawsuit, was a way to hinder Fubo's business and growth.

In forming the joint venture, Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery would cause a “crippling” of streaming competitors and encourage them not to offer premium content to Fubo and others, FuboTV alleged.

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Fubo is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the joint venture from operating and to order the three companies to withdraw the joint venture.

“For decades, Defendants have used their iron grip on sports content to extract billions of dollars in super-competitive profits from distributors and consumers,” the complaint states. “Defendants have earned many of these profits by “bundling” their commercially important sports content — along with other, less desirable content — by forcing sports fans to buy channels they do not want or need to receive Defendants' sports content.”

The joint venture between the three companies shook up the sports television landscape when it was announced. Between them, Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery own the rights to NBA and NHL national broadcasts, as well as a good number of NFL, MLB and NCAA tournament games among other sports. FuboTV accuses the companies of violating antitrust laws by linking to a streaming app.

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“The (joint venture) would substantially lessen and soften competition by facilitating horizontal cooperation between defendants who jointly control access to commercially important sports content in the United States,” the lawsuit said. “With the JV, the defendants have pooled their interests and will have the opportunity and incentive to collude when they compulsorily license game content to third-party distributors.

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(Photo: Jakub Borzicki/Getty Images)

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