3 New ESPN Streaming Options Are Coming

ESPN is expanding its reach with major updates including its integration into Disney+, a new joint sports streaming service with Fox and Warner Bros Discovery, and a standalone streaming platform set for 2025.

espn new streaming options
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Disney+ subscribers will soon notice live sports from ESPN within their streaming app.

The ESPN tile that’s being added within the Disney+ app will have a selection of live sporting events from the cable network as it prepares to launch a standalone streaming service in 2025. 

Like many cable networks, ESPN has been grappling with the slow demise of the cable bundle, and the shift toward streaming. Disney CEO Bob Iger said during a Q2 earnings call on Tuesday that ESPN will be offered a number of different ways. 

A few years ago, sports fans could only watch live sports on ESPN through cable or TV streaming services like YouTube TV and Sling TV. Now, Iger is reducing reliance on these services by leveraging Disney’s own streaming assets. Disney owns Hulu + Live TV, ESPN+, ABC and Disney+.

Here’s a detailed look at the significant updates coming to ESPN:

1. Integration into Disney+:

By the end of this year, ESPN will start offering select live games and studio shows on Disney+. This move, as stated by Iger, is the first step toward integrating more sports content into the Disney+ platform.

It builds on the success of adding Hulu programming to Disney+, which received positive viewer feedback. The goal is to make Disney+ a central hub for premier entertainment, including significant sports events, providing a valuable alternative for fans who prefer streaming to traditional cable.

2. Launch of a New Joint Sports Streaming Service:

ESPN is also set to be a key player in a new sports streaming service, launching later this year. This service is a joint venture with Fox Sports and Warner Bros Discovery and is designed to cater to younger audiences who do not watch traditional TV.

The service, yet to be named, will offer an all-in-one sports package that includes well-known channels such as ESPN, TNT, and FS1.

This platform will be accessible as a standalone subscription and through streaming bundles on Disney+, Hulu, and Max. The service will have 14 cable and broadcast networks, offering sports from leagues like the NFL, NBA, and MLB. The service will be a first by offering a comprehensive sports streaming option without entertainment or news networks.

3. Standalone ESPN Streaming Service in 2025:

In 2025, ESPN plans to launch a standalone direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming service. This platform is part of ESPN’s strategy to transition toward a more digital-focused offering, reflecting the increasing consumer shift from cable to online streaming.

The service will provide an extensive array of sports content directly to viewers without the need for a traditional cable subscription. Iger has emphasized that while this new service will enhance ESPN’s digital presence, the network will continue to be available through traditional cable packages. This approach ensures that ESPN remains accessible to all sports fans, regardless of their preferred viewing method.

Continued Relevance for ESPN on Cable & Linear TV

While some say cable will cease to exist in the near future, Iger believes that linear TV will remain a vital component of sports broadcasting. 

He reassured investors that ESPN’s presence in traditional cable packages will persist, accommodating viewers who prefer the conventional viewing experience. 

This dual streaming-and-cable approach allows ESPN to cater to both its base of legacy cable customers and digital-savvy viewers, maintaining its stronghold in sports media across all platforms.

Jim Kimble is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016, and serves as the editor.

Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe.

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