ESPN Is Talking to Dish, Others About New Streaming Packages

Courtesy of ESPN

ESPN has been talking to Dish and other companies about launching new online streaming services that could include ESPN as part of their online TV bundle, revealed the sportscaster’s president John Skipper at Recode’s Code Media conference in Southern California Wednesday.

Skipper didn’t want to comment on potential negotiations with Apple or Amazon, but said that ESPN has been talking to Dish and others “about creating other multi-stream products.”

However, ESPN isn’t looking to sell directly to consumers. “We do not believe that right now to be good business,” Skipper said. Instead, ESPN is betting on preserving the traditional pay TV bundle. “We have no intention of changing that proposition. That is excellent business for us,” he said.

Still, the realities of cord cutting haven’t been lost on Skipper. ESPN saw its subscribers decline last year, which contributed to a sell-off in media stock. “There have been some losses due to cord cutting,” Skipper acknowledged. ESPN has been hit doubly hard by this trend because some consumers have been trading down to smaller packages that don’t include ESPN, he said.

On the flip side, some of these smaller packages can also be a boon for ESPN, Skipper argued. He reiterated that his cooperation with Sling has been doing very well, thanks in large parts to including ESPN into its base package. “ESPN is the driver of that package,” he said.

Skipper didn’t spell it out like that, but ESPN’s negotiations with Dish may well be about a premium version of Sling. The streaming service currently limits its customers to accessing just one stream at a time due to the fact that ESPN has made this a condition of its contract with the service. Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch told Variety earlier this year that his company is exploring the launch of multiple streams.

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  1. Mike says:

    When baseball players are making $30 million a year (!), those costs are always going to be passed on to the consumer…whether that is in ticket prices or television fees. Like another person already mentioned, ESPN vastly overpaid for much of their sports programming. If professional sports salaries keep going up, no one will be able to afford to watch them…or want to with the ridiculous amounts of money being subsidized by the home viewer. ESPN is struggling to find revenue, and that search should begin with cutting capital expenditures on programming – who cares about a Tuesday night Cardinal vs Braves game?

    • therealjonpalmer says:

      “…who cares about a Tuesday night Cardinal vs Braves game?”
      Really? That is a pretty simple thing to answer.
      1) Cardinals fans.
      2) Braves fans
      3) Fans of all the other teams in the NL East (Braves) and NL Central (Cardinals). Especially, if either team is doing well enough to be in the playoff race.
      4) Baseball fans that just enjoy watching whatever games they can find on TV.

      But, you are right on the mark about the outrageous salaries of current pro athletes, and the corresponding escalating ticket prices. In the mid-1980’s, the very best baseball players were signing for around $2M/year. Now they have gone up like 5000%. It would sure be nice if the general public was making 5000% more than they were back then.

  2. Matchbox says:

    Would be nice to see an OTT skinny bundle offered that doesn’t include ESPN, resulting in either a lower cost ($15 rather than Sling’s $20) or a few additional entertainment channels for the same $20 cost.

  3. John Miller says:

    If ESPN wanted to do cable and satellite customers a favor, they would allow us to not have to subscribe to their programming!

    • jhs39 says:

      ESPN couldn’t exist in its current form if only the people who wanted ESPN paid for ESPN. They paid obscene amounts of money for sports rights believing that their channel would be subsidized forever by cable and satellite subscribers who were previously stuck with it on all but the most barebones bundles. I cut the cord a while back, but when I still had Direct TV if you wanted any channel like A&E or FX then you were stuck with ESPN as well.

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