U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, poses for a portrait in his Rayburn House Office Building office, on Oct. 12 in Washington, D.C.

Venu Sports hasn’t even launched yet but it may already be the most hotly contested sports media enterprise of the year. The joint streaming venture from ESPN, Fox Sports, and Warner Bros. Discovery has the potential to totally change the sports media landscape as the three mega companies will combine their sports offering onto one convenient platform.

But before its planned launch in the fall, Venu Sports is already facing significant opposition. It’s already the subject of a lawsuit from Fubo. While some experts are skeptical of any kind of antitrust concerns slowing Venu Sports down, that hasn’t stopped Congress from trying to exert their authority to share their own concerns about the new platform harming the sports media ecosystem.

Back in April, House members Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) sent a letter to the heads of the three families – Disney’s Bob Iger, Fox’s Lachlan Murdoch, and WBD’s David Zaslav, sharing their own questions about Venu’s effect on the marketplace.

Now Castro and Nadler sent a second letter last week saying that the response they received from the Venu Sports particulars were “insufficient” regarding their concerns over issues regarding collusion, consumer privacy, and a lack of transparency about pricing.

Although we appreciate your prompt reply and willingness to meet with our staff, your responses so far are insufficient. We write to renew our request for information about your joint venture.

Overall, we still have not received answers about the firewalls your companies may implement to
prevent collusion; the precautions you may take to ensure consumer privacy; or the methods you may use to determine pricing of the new service. Some of the vague assurances you have provided strike us as contradictory. For example, we find it difficult to understand how your companies can both promise not to share competitively sensitive information and also evaluate the success of the joint venture on a company-by-company basis. Your repeated assertion that the details of the joint venture have not yet been finalized is also hard to believe, given that the joint venture is projected to roll out in mere months.

The letter specifically asks for several pieces of information from the three companies and also asks that Disney, Fox, and WBD send a copy to the Department of Justice by June 21st. They include standalone plans from each company to make their channels available for streaming, price points, and assurances against collusion and anti-competitive practices as it relates to sharing sensitive information with each other.

“Your companies exert unmatched control over the entire sports media ecosystem. Without care, your joint venture has the potential to reshape this already-concentrated space to the detriment of consumers, sports leagues, and third-party distributors,” the letter goes on to state.

The three companies involved had to know that their combining of forces into one platform would prompt major oversight scrutiny from either Congress or the Department of Justice or both, so the fact that Reps. Castro and Nadler aren’t getting the answers they hoped for has to be concerning.

As the letter points out, Venu is just a few months from launching and there’s still a lot of basics regarding price points and subscription plans that aren’t known about the product. Given the tight timeline of the Congressional demands for answers, this could become a much bigger story if ESPN, Fox, and WBD aren’t able to get their ducks in a row quickly.

[The Wrap]