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AMC, Viacom, and Discovery Consider a $20 Bet on Sports-Free Streaming TV

Man watching multiple television screens (Digital Composite)Man watching multiple television screens (Digital Composite)

Television has a widely-reported problem: Consumers are cutting the cord at an alarming clip.

This comes as no surprise—people want to pay only for what they watch, and cable companies’ buffet-style bundles cost far too much. But live sports is among the biggest reasons for bloated bills, and that’s because—from the ever-climbing amounts paid for media rights to the price of technological advancements to broadcasts—the big leagues cost big bucks to produce.

But when subscribers cancel their cable, companies in need a steady stream of viewers, like Viacom, get hurt more than channels like ESPN, that can demand premium ad prices for their most popular live events. And according to a report by Bloomberg, Viacom (VIAB), AMC (AMCX), and Discovery (DISCA) are teaming up to talk with pay-television providers about making sports-free bundles that could help even the playing field.

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According to the report, the programmers behind The Walking Dead, Deadliest Catch, and Catfish: The TV Show are negotiating to deliver streaming video packages for less than $20-per-month through as many as six providers. Priced to undercut some of the latest streaming services available like YouTube TV—which comes with 40 live channels for $35 monthly—and an anticipated streaming bundle from Hulu, the small franken-bundle being discussed could be big news for fans of some of the best TV dramas.

But this collaboration could also mean hardball for the networks because Disney (DIS), ESPN’s owner, has considerable clout through the other entities it owns, like ABC.