ESPN announced that their channels, traditionally reserved for cable and pay-TV subscriptions, will be available directly to cord-cutters in 2025. The news on this service follows the monumental news that ESPN is entering a joint venture with FOX and WarnerBros Discovery to have many channels available on one streaming service. That debuts in Fall 2024 at a price point to be determined.
This news on Disney’s streaming service for ESPN’s channels caters to the beginning of the football season in 2025. ESPN is opening the door to provide viewers with multiple ways to access their channels. Moreover, this service will be cheaper than the joint venture between ESPN, FOX and WarnerBros Discovery. Simply based on the fact that there are fewer channels, the price for this subscription will be less than $40.
ESPN+, the company’s paid streaming platform, will still be separate from this service that covers ESPN’s channels. There is a chance Disney provides some sort of bundle between the TV channels and ESPN+. That is the plan with the aforementioned joint venture, which will include a subscription to ESPN+. ESPN may do the same with this subscription for its TV channels, but that is merely speculation.
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What makes the ESPN TV channels necessary for cord-cutters?
Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, said the platform specific to ESPN’s TV channels differs from the joint venture in several key ways. Much of the content will overlap, yes. The point venture, much like this ESPN-specific service, will have access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS and ABC. Yet, the lower price will have options that cater to other parts of watching sports.
Iger said the service will be much more involved for sports fans.
“It will have many more features and provide a much more immersive experience for the sports fan than this bundle has,” Iger said on CNBC. “[This subscription] will have features like integrated betting, fantasy, much more personalization, customization, probably some shopping in some form, much deeper in statistics and those sort of things. The sports lover’s delight.”
Soccer on ESPN’s TV channels
If ESPN is putting its ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and other channels on one service, there is the potential for soccer fans to take advantage. Even though ESPN+ is the traditional home of most of ESPN’s soccer content, Disney does put games on the TV channels regularly.
For example, Bundesliga games involving clubs toward the top of the table make frequent appearances on ABC. That includes a recent matchup between Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig. This does not guarantee major games on ESPN’s channels, though. ESPN has the rights to several fixtures in El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona throughout the season. These games are almost always exclusive to ESPN+, much like the majority of ESPN’s soccer catalog.
However, the option to have ESPN’s TV channels does have implications for many other sports. The NBA, NHL, NFL and other competitions with a largely American audience call ESPN and its channels home.
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