ESPN launches ESPN+, a new streaming service
Disney’s (DIS) ESPN is launching a new direct-to-customer streaming service, ESPN+, at $4.99 per month, or $49.99 per year. However, the streaming service does not offer the same live events as ESPN.
The streaming service offers an array of live sports, including one MLB (Major League Baseball) game and one NHL (National Hockey League) game per day during their regular seasons. It is set to offer over 250 MLS (Major League Soccer) games. The service does not include popular live sports events such as Monday Night Football or NBA (National Basketball Association) games.
How ESPN+ could be useful for ESPN
Since ESPN+ is not really a substitute for the shrinking-but-massive ESPN, it shouldn’t draw away subscribers. At the end of Disney’s fiscal 2017 (ended in September 2017), ESPN had 88 million US subscribers, compared with 90 million at the end of fiscal 2016. The decline in subscribers was mainly a result of cord-cutting.
If Disney ends up acquiring 21st Century Fox (FOX), which also owns rights for a number of sports broadcasts, Disney could build up its ESPN+ subscriptions. More importantly, while ESPN+ may not attract a lot of subscribers, it could be used as a means of learning the ropes of offering a direct-to-customer streaming service, given that Disney’s streaming service could rival Netflix’s in the works.
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