Judging from recent developments, it would seem that the next big thing in streaming services is sports. It took a while for the sports world to catch up with the rest of the entertainment industry, but now there are more options than ever for streaming sports without cable. From sports-focused services like fuboTV to single-sport specialty services like the WWE Network, more and more sports options are popping up in the streaming world to great success. The latest big success story in sports streaming is ESPN+ which has just announced that the brand-new service has reached over 1 million paid subscribers in just five months. Is streaming the future of sports?
Let’s hope so. For years, offering access to live sports was among the biggest advantages cable had over other video providers. Now, thanks to streaming services which offer live streams of major networks and dedicated sports streaming services, that’s no longer the case. ESPN+ is an add-on for existing ESPN subscribers and offers exclusive coverage of some college sports events in addition to sports which receive lesser broadcast coverage like rugby, cricket, international soccer, and tennis. MLB and NHL games are also streamed on ESPN+.
ESPN+ launched on April 12, 2018 for $4.99 a month. Just five short months later, the service already boasts over 1 million subscribers and has boosted ESPN parent company Disney’s stock up 1.1%.
“Combining sports, technology and the ESPN brand is a very powerful combination, and we are just getting started,” says Jimmy Pitaro, president of ESPN and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. “Very quickly, a wide range of sports fans have seen the value of ESPN+. With high quality programming and an outstanding user experience, ESPN and DTCI [Disney Direct to Consumer and International] are expanding the ways Disney is serving sports fans.”
ESPN+ is likely just the start for ESPN and Disney. The streaming world is holding its collective breath for the launch of a dedicated Disney streaming service next year which will feature exclusive programming from the entire Disney catalog, including Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and of course all of the Disney family favorites we’ve all come to love.
Once again, this latest news shows that streaming is indeed the future of video. Just as broadcast television took over in the decades following the invention of radio transmission technology, streaming television is set to take over now that internet connectivity has reached near ubiquity. It’s only natural that sports would be on the forefront of any new communication medium.