ESPN’s standalone streaming service will launch this spring, Disney CEO Bob Iger told analysts and investors shortly after the media conglomerate posted its quarterly earnings. The over-the-top offering will be priced at $4.99 a month and will debut as part of a new ESPN app.
“This will enable people to access ESPN just about any way imaginable,” Iger said. “If anything points to what the future of ESPN looks like, it will be this.”
The announcement comes at a troubled time for ESPN. Once a major source of revenue and profits for Disney, the sports network has been a drag on its stock price. Investors have become concerned about consumers cutting the cable cord to explore cheaper digital services, and their fears have been heightened as ESPN has suffered lower viewership and declining ad sales.
The new app is not a total break with ESPN’s TV past. It will give users the ability to live stream the channels themselves, but they will have to be a subscriber of ESPN via “traditional or non-traditional” methods. It will also give them access to a collection of sports news, scores, and highlights that Iger said will be “highly personalized” based on geography, sports team affiliation, and other data points. In addition, subscribers can access a library of ESPN content, such as its “30 for 30” documentary series, as well as live events that are not broadcast on its suite of channels.
Apple iOS, Android, and ChromeCast will be the initial platforms for the app. BAMTech, a streaming specialist and technology company that Disney acquired a controlling stake in last year, helped create the new app.