In the fall we wrote that ESPN’s new streaming service ESPN Plus would launch in Spring 2018. However details were vague, with pricing unknown and no specific list of what programming would be available.
But yesterday on Disney’s earnings call CEO Bob Iger unveiled some more details, including pricing.
ESPN Plus will cost $4.99 per month, and be available “this spring”. The offering will be built into ESPN’s main mobile app which will be redesigned to have three main sections – scores and news, live streaming via cable authentication, and ESPN Plus. Notably, this confirms that ESPN Plus will not provide live access to ESPN’s main channels like ESPN and ESPN2 – you’ll still need a cable subscription to authenticate and watch.
So what is ESPN Plus if it won’t give access to watch ESPN’s channels live? Iger said the service will provide “an incremental thousands of hours of live sports programming” as well as new and existing original programming, including the entire 30 for 30 series.
The fact that ESPN Plus doesn’t provide access to the media company’s main sports channels is a huge miss – at least until ESPN can prove that the “incremental live programming” will actually be good enough for people to shell out an extra $4.99 per month. Of course it’s also an opportunity for ESPN to start developing some original content.
Much of this new experience will be powered by BAMTech, a company that powers streaming for many major sports leagues and media companies and is 75% owned by Disney.