The transition of ESPN Classic from a linear service to an on-demand service is underway.
Starting on Oct. 1, Dish Network will begin offering content from the vintage sports service via an on-demand basis through set-top boxes. Subscribers at the No. 2 DBS provider who receive ESPN networks as part of their video subscription will have immediate access to on-demand programming from ESPN Classic. A digital content offering through WatchESPN is slated to launch in early 2015.
The changeover marks the beginning of the end for the linear network ESPN purchased for $175 million in 1997 from a group that included founder Brian Bedol. In 2009, ESPN switched ESPN Classic to a sports-tier positioning, exchanging its carriage with that of ESPNU, which has become a more critical service for the worldwide leader’s vast collegiate sports properties.