ESPN Has Plans For Subscription-Based Product Similar to Netflix


Current ESPN President John Skipper recently stated in an interview that the powerhouse sports network is looking into supplying a subscription-based product for cord cutters. In the interview Skipper acknowledged that more and more people – mostly people in their 20’s and 30’s – are choosing to cut out cable and satellite packages, and opt for services much like Netflix to view programming. Skipper said, “I do believe that increasingly video is going to be distributed through wireless and through wire broadband and we’re going to have content on that.”

On the subject of supplying a paid subscription service for sports programming, Skipper stated, “There are now six or eight million people, many of them millennials, who don’t have a paid television subscription. We want to figure out products that try to get those people to buy something. Many of those people have smart phone and tablets. This – the product that they’re working on – clearly is a product which will be primarily designed to deliver our existing 24/7 linear networks to those different ways of watching content.”

Skipper was also asked about an a la carte option for sports packages, specifically soccer. The ESPN President said, “When we did our new MLS deal, we bought their out of market games, and one of the things we are clearly contemplating is the idea that we will create another business and another revenue stream. We have two big revenue streams, payments from distributors, and advertising.”

Skipper continued, “We think about, because Netflix is straight to the consumer, we think about ‘are there sports events we can offer that the consumer will pay us directly?’ Not the content that we have in our current linear networks, this has to be new money and we’d create a third revenue stream for us. So yeah, we are interested in that.”

Another very logical question is why would someone not ordering cable/satellite – because of the high bill – order a package with few channels and programming? Skipper answered the question by saying, “I think the sense is that it’s going to be a smaller package of networks. It will be less expensive, and many of these people (cord cutters) are out in their first apartments, or in college, and may not have one of those big screens and may be satisfied with a Netflix subscription and a smaller package of video services like ESPN, and our sense is that they will trade up.”

ESPN is obviously thinking ahead and do not want to be left out of a significant market. Skipper also added, “It’s not acceptable to us that there are going to be six or eight million people out there who don’t get some product from us.” ESPN is an enormous company and they want to reach out and allow a wide range of people to view their programming, but at a cost obviously. They don’t necessarily want to change their current programming; they are just looking into additional ways to supply ESPN programming and games to people who do not order cable or satellite.

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  1. yespage September 18, 2014
    • David September 18, 2014
  2. Brn442 September 18, 2014
  3. jrj90620 January 1, 2015

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