ESPN is about to enter the streaming service business.
The service will be called ESPN Plus, and live inside a new app that will be launched by the sports broadcasting network in spring 2018 – much earlier than Disney’s more general subscription streaming service that will launch in 2019.
Disney CEO Bob Iger says a new ESPN app will launch in the spring and "ESPN Plus" streaming service will cost $4.99. pic.twitter.com/nIMzPh9H5n
— CNBC (@CNBC) February 6, 2018
Disney CEO Bob Iger gave a preview of ESPN’s upcoming direct to consumer streaming service. The announcement comes after another disappointing quarter for ESPN, with decreased ad revenue and higher programming costs compared to the prior year.
The app will give those who purchase it “the ability to live stream the channels themselves.” The catch is that those opting for that route will have to be an ESPN subscriber by “traditional or non-traditional” methods. Disney’s Iger elaborated further on the app during his interview with CNBC.
The standalone subscription will be Disney’s first attempt at a direct-to-consumer service. The company has been ramping up its efforts to win over people whose viewing habits are shifting away from cable TV, and toward digital streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video.
ESPN has faced declining subscriber numbers and ad revenue. And even though it’s trying to focus on digital programming, the network is locked into expensive, long-term TV deals with sports leagues.