ESPN’s new streaming service, ESPN+, was already expected to arrive this spring. Now we have the launch date: April 12, 2018. The service will cost subscribers $4.99 per month, and offer streaming access to live sports, original content, and on-demand programming delivered a redesigned and personalized ESPN app, as well as ESPN.com
In August 2017, Disney first announced its plans for new streaming businesses, including its acquisition of a majority stake in the streaming technology company BAMTech, and its two new streaming services: ESPN+ and a Disney-branded service arriving in late 2019.
Details on the ESPN service have been steadily trickling out in the months since.
Last November, for example, Disney CEO Bob Iger offered a brief overview of what the company had in store for ESPN+, amid news of a disappointing quarter for ESPN. He said at the time that ESPN+ would be able to stream ESPN channels on an authenticated basis, in addition to the extra over-the-top live content provided by the ESPN+ subscription.
In February, the company further confirmed access to ESPN’s 8 TV channels, like ESPN and ESPN2, would still require a pay TV subscription. The updated ESPN app would offer access to these channels through a special live streaming section (“TV Everywhere” video), alongside other sections dedicated to scores and news, ESPN audio, and ESPN+. The $4.99 subscription pricing was also announced then.
Today, ESPN is also detailing more details about what ESPN+ will include, when it arrives.
The lineup will offer thousands of live sports events, such as:
- Over 180 MLB games: This equates to a game per day throughout the regular season. Every MLB team will be included.
- Over 180 NHL games: ESPN+ subscribers will get a daily HNL game throughout the regular season, in keeping with the NHL schedule.
- Year-round boxing: ESPN+ will feature boxing throughout the year, including exclusive fights like the April 21 Amir Khan vs. Phil Lo Greco bout in Liverpool, England; as well as undercard fights throughout the year from Top Rank on ESPN events, re-airs of all Top Rank on ESPN and PPV events. A library of legendary fights from the Top Rank and ESPN Big Fights archives will also be available.
- Over 250 MLS games: Exclusive access to the entire MLS out-of-market schedule, with over 250 games. It will also be the exclusive local-market home to the Chicago Fire, with 27 matches available to Chicago subscribers.
- Thousands of College Sports games and events: Baseball, Softball, Lacrosse, Tennis, Track & Field, Football, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Volleyball, Field Hockey, Wrestling, Swimming, Diving, Gymnastics, and Ice Hockey will all be seasonally available. Conferences include America East, ASun, Big South, Big West, Horizon, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, NEC, Southern Conference, Southland, Summit League, Sun Belt, WAC and more.
- PGA Tour live golf: More than 100 days of coverage from 31 PGA Tour events, including THE PLAYERS Championship, the FedEx Cup Playoffs, AT&T Byron Nelson, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Travelers Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational and dozens more.
- Grand Slam Tennis: Hundreds of singles and doubles tennis matches from Wimbledon, U.S. Open, and Australian Open
- Rugby & Cricket: Hundreds of matches from SANZAAR (including Super Rugby, The Rugby Championship, the Lions Series, Mitre10 Cup, Currie Cup, Bledisloe Cup and other international matches), the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series, and 18 regular-season matches in the inaugural season of Major League Rugby, the new American professional rugby union league. Also available are matches across Test, ODI and T20 formats from New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Ireland.
Subscribers will also be able to buy the MLB.TV out-of-market package through the ESPN app for $24.99 per month, as well as the NHL.TV out-of-market package, the company says.
ESPN showed off the ESPN+ logo for the first time today, too. The black-and-yellow logo still has the same font as ESPN’s logo, but with an added plus sign to the right of the text.
The arrival of ESPN+ comes at a time when Disney’s cable networks’ income has been declining, and ESPN specifically has been seeing lower advertising revenues. In fiscal Q1 2018, ESPN reported an 11 percent decline in ad revenue. The company needs ESPN+ subscriptions to help stem these losses.
“The launch of ESPN+ marks the beginning of an exciting new era of innovation for our media businesses – one defined by an increasingly direct and personal relationship with consumers,” said Kevin Mayer, Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International, The Walt Disney Company, in a statement about the new service.
Mayer just recently moved into this position, reporting directly to Iger, as part of a massive reorg of Disney’s business last month to put more focus on streaming efforts.
“This new product reflects our direct-to-consumer strategy focused on combining our beloved brands with our proprietary, industry-leading technology to give users unparalleled access to our world-class content,” he said.