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Will Disney’s ESPN Deal with Comcast Drive Subscriber Growth?


Sep. 6 2018, Published 8:08 a.m. ET

New ESPN networks on Xfinity X1

Disney’s (DIS) most popular sports network, ESPN, has entered a partnership with the leading cable service operator, Comcast (CMCSA), to offer ESPN3, ACC Network Extra, and the SEC Network Plus on Xfinity X1 devices. The new channels were available on Xfinity X1 devices as of September 5.

The cable giant’s Xfinity X1 TV service is an online video service allowing subscribers to watch and record shows anywhere. It is gaining popularity due to its flexible nature. Thus, ESPN targeted the Xfinity X1 TV service to launch its new channels. These three channels will show more than 5,000 live games each year including college football games, international soccer, Grand Slam tennis matches, college basketball, and additional collegiate sports events.

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ESPN subscriber trends

As the graph above shows, ESPN has witnessed a declining trend in subscribers in the last five years. In the last four years, ESPN has lost around 11 million subscribers at an average of nearly 2.8 million users each year.

In order to boost its subscriber growth, the company also launched an ESPN+ app in April 2018. The ESPN+ app supports around 10,000 live sporting events that are not available on ESPN’s linear channels. This move is also a part of its DTC (direct-to-consumer) strategy as well.


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