Streaming has not only changed the way people consume content, it has also changed the way businesses deliver such content to meet the consumers’ new lifestyles. That has been true for music, movies, TV shows, and, to some extent, even games. But sports shows? Not so much. This a holdover of traditional distribution channels, networks like ESPN are struggling to remain in business as more and more people cut the cord. Disney’s solution? An ESPN streaming service, of course. But it might not be as straightforward as it sounds.
Rumors of ESPN starting a streaming subscription of its own goes way back to 2016. But it was only at Disney’s recent earnings call that CEO Bog Iger himself reportedly confirmed not just the existence of such plans but even the details of the upcoming service.
The still unnamed ESP standalone streaming service will come via its own app, initially available for iOS, Android, and even Chromecast. Aside from being able to stream ESPN channels, the apps will offer news, scores, and highlights on the go. There will also be non-live content, like documentaries, available for streaming. There might even be streaming-only exclusives unavailable on its TV channels.
But perhaps the most part of the subscription is it will be an over-the-top one. Users will have to subscribe to those ESPN channels via other means, including cable TV. And they’ll be paying $4.99 a month for the streaming subscription itself.
How that will fly with consumers remains to be seen when the service launches sometime in Spring. Considering the dearth of sports-centric streaming services, sports fans may not have much choice anyway. Which is probably what investors are hoping cord cutters will do, instead of simply abandoning the cash cow that was ESPN.