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A general overall view of Allegiant Stadium, the site of Super Bowl 58 between San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, in Las Vegas, on Feb. 7.Kirby Lee/Reuters

Last summer, I was part of a gang that descended on a friend’s cottage over the weekend of the British Grand Prix.

Most of the crowd wanted to watch driver Max Verstappen continue his domination of the Formula One circuit. Problem: The host didn’t have cable TV.

Solution: One of the guests subscribed to a streaming service that carries F1 races. Those of us who cared drank our morning coffee on the edge of a lake, watching Red Bull edge McLaren and Mercedes.

On Tuesday, three of the largest U.S. media companies teamed up to ensure they retain the loyalty and wallets of fans like my F1-loving friends. Walt Disney Co. DIS-N, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. – traditional rivals – shook up the media industry by announcing they will jointly launch a sports streaming service this fall.

The potential of the new streaming service – home to every game a fan could want to watch – has analysts urging Canada’s two dominant sports broadcasters, Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T and Bell parent BCE Inc. BCE-T, to follow suit by launching a streaming platform of their own.

“BCE and Rogers should come together and entertain the idea of merging their sports content and potentially offer a combined sport streaming service,” said analyst Maher Yaghi at Scotiabank in a report. “Both consumers and shareholders would be better off,” he said.

The three U.S. broadcasters face a challenge that is all too familiar to Rogers and Bell. A massive portion of their audience is switching from their conventional TV networks to streamers such as Netflix and Amazon. And cable subscribers are either cutting the cord or – for a younger cohort – never bother to sign up for the service.

Fox chief executive officer Lachlan Murdoch told analysts in a conference call on Wednesday that half of U.S. households no longer have a cable or pay-TV subscription. When questioned on whether the new service would cannibalize Fox’s existing audience, Mr. Murdoch said: ”This sports-focused platform is focused entirely on cord-nevers – not cord-cutters, but cord-nevers.”

Disney’s ESPN, Fox and Warner own rights to virtually everything sports viewers consider must-see TV: pro football, hockey, baseball, basketball, golf, FIFA’s soccer World Cup and auto racing. For the foreseeable future, these broadcasters will continue to feature sports on their conventional networks. At the same time, they will try to win new audiences and more revenue from streaming.

The prospect of the three broadcast heavyweights wading into streaming knocked the stuffing out of existing services. On Wednesday, shares in New York Stock Exchange-listed FuboTV Inc. FUBO-N, which streams soccer games for US$7 per month, fell by 23 per cent. Investors clearly expect Disney, Fox and Warner’s partnership to win an audience.

ESPN has been steadily losing subscribers in recent years and Disney faced an activist campaign from investor Nelson Peltz that included demands to find partners for the network.

In a press release on Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the streaming concept “means the full suite of ESPN channels will be available to consumers alongside the sports programming of other industry leaders as part of a differentiated sports-centric service.”

Rogers and Bell face the same problem: Sports is the one bright spot in TV businesses that are otherwise in decline. Once Disney, Fox and Warner work out the bugs on their partnership, a streaming service is a potential solution to this Canadian broadcasting problem.

Over the past seven years, CRTC data show that domestic audiences spent 3 per cent more of their time watching sports and that there was a 28-per-cent drop in all other television viewing.

“This is a testament to the attachment of Canadians to sports,” said Mr. Yaghi: “While TV-content fragmentation has continued unabated, sports viewership has held its own.”

Rogers owns baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays – which draw a dependable audience from spring to fall – and the Sportsnet network. Bell runs the other dominant English-language sports network – TSN – and shares a control stake with Rogers in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, parent to teams such as basketball’s Raptors and hockey’s Maple Leafs.

“Why not take MLSE, tack on the Jays and combine all the sports streaming licences that Bell and Rogers both have access to and create a consumer friendly, profitable and possibly a public company?” said Mr. Yaghi.

For fans who want to spend cottage mornings watching F1 races on the storied Silverstone track, a Canadian sports streamer can’t come fast enough.

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