Disney Direct-to-Consumer and ESPN said they will launched the new ESPN+ streaming service on April 12.
ESPN+ will be integrated into a new ESPN App and cost $4.99 a month. It will offer thousands of live sports events including Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, college sports, Top Rank Boxing, PGA Tour golf and Grand Slam Tennis.
The new services is separate from ESPN’s current cable TV channel and programming, which will continue to be available via cable, satellite and telco distributors and through TV Everywhere apps.
“ESPN was built on a belief in innovation and the powerful connection between sports and a remarkable array of fans. That same belief is at the heart of ESPN+ and the new ESPN App. With ESPN+, fans have access to thousands more live games, world class original programs and on-demand sports content, all at a great price,” said James PItaro, president of ESPN and co-chair, Disney Media Networks.. They will get all of that as a part of a completely re-imagined, increasingly personalized ESPN App that provides easy, one-stop access to everything ESPN offers.”
The streaming service is part of the Walt Disney Co.’s push into direct-to-consumer streaming video services. ESPN+ is the first product from the newly formed Disney Direct-To-Consumer and International unit.
Streaming became a priority as cord cutting contributed to a decline in traditional pay-TV subscribers. As the number of pay-TV subscribers declined, the growth of ESPN’s distribution revenues slowed, while its programming costs continued to escalate.
A Disney branded service featuring content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucas Film is scheduled to launch next year.
Both streaming services use BAMTech as their technical backbones.
“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 Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International. “ 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.”
In addition to live games, the ESPN+ service will offer original shows and film, exclusive studio programs and an on-demand library including ESPN’s 30 for 30.