ESPN+ OTT Service Will Launch April 12, Include Live MLB, NHL, MLS Games
The $4.99/month direct-to-consumer platform will also feature boxing, college sports, PGA golf, Grand Slam tennis, and more
ESPN unveiled specifics for its long-expected direct-to-consumer OTT service, ESPN+, today. The subscription streaming service will launch on April 12 at a cost of $4.99/month (or $49.99/year) and will be an integrated part of a redesigned ESPN App that will serve as the company’s all-in-one digital sports platform; it will also be available through ESPN.com.
Live sports content on ESPN+ will include more than 180 MLB games this season (a game per day), more than 180 NHL games (a game per day), Top Rank Boxing fights, more than 250 MLS games, thousands of college sports events across nearly two dozen conferences (including football this fall), 31 PGA TOUR events, Grand Slam tennis (Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open), and hundreds of rugby and cricket matches.
The “reimagined” ESPN App will offer an increasingly personalized one-stop digital destination on mobile and digital living-room platforms: ESPN+, authenticated live streaming of ESPN’s eight U.S. networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, SEC Network, Longhorn Network), and ESPN Audio live and on-demand content (including ESPN Radio streaming and podcasts). More details about ESPN+ and the redesigned ESPN App — including further details about live sports, original, and on-demand programming — will be announced ahead of launch.
“ESPN was built on a belief in innovation and the powerful connection between sports and a remarkable array of fans,” said James Pitaro, president, ESPN/co-chair, Disney Media Networks, in the announcement. “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. They will get all of that as part of a completely reimagined, increasingly personalized ESPN App that provides easy, one-stop access to everything ESPN offers.”
ESPN+ is the first direct-to-consumer service offering from Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, the multiplatform media, technology, and distribution organization for content created by Disney’s Media Networks and Studio Entertainment groups. A Disney-branded direct-to-consumer service, offering subscription video-on-demand viewing of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm movies along with a host of exclusive content, will launch in late 2019. Both streaming services are powered by BAMTECH, a unit of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.
“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, Direct-to-Consumer and International, The Walt Disney Co. “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.”
The ESPN+ programming lineup will be built on four key pillars of content: thousands of live sports events, original shows and films, exclusive studio programs, and an on-demand library.
“ESPN+ will connect fans directly to sports they love wherever and whenever they want,” said Michael Paull, president, BAMTECH Media. “Together, BAMTECH’s industry-leading direct-to-consumer video platform and capabilities combined with ESPN’s unmatched sports content will deliver fans an all-new streaming experience with exciting product features built for watching incredible live and on-demand sports.”
Among the thousands of live sports events confirmed to stream on ESPN+ are:
- MLB — MORE THAN 180 GAMES; A GAME PER DAY THROUGHOUT SEASON: ESPN+ will feature a game each day, seven days per week, throughout the regular season, representing every MLB team (blackouts apply).
- NHL — MORE THAN 180 GAMES; GAME OF THE DAY THROUGHOUT REGULAR SEASON: Beginning with the 2018-19 NHL season, subscribers will get a daily game throughout the regular season (in keeping with the league schedule); blackouts apply.
- BOXING — YEAR-ROUND SCHEDULE, INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE KHAN VS. LO GRECO BOUT: ESPN+ is a key part of ESPN’s multiplatform Top Rank Boxing on ESPN agreement and will feature boxing throughout the year, with a selection of exclusive main-event fights beginning with the April 21 Amir Khan vs. Phil Lo Greco bout in Liverpool, UK. In addition, ESPN+ will feature undercard fights throughout the year from Top Rank on ESPN events, re-airs of all Top Rank on ESPN and PPV events and a library of legendary fights from the Top Rank and ESPN Big Fights archives.
- MLS — MORE THAN 250 GAMES: At launch, an ESPN+ subscription will provide exclusive access to the entire MLS Live out-of-market schedule (blackouts apply). Before launch, fans can access free out-of-market games streaming live on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS App. Additionally, ESPN+ will be the exclusive local-market home for the Chicago Fire, bringing 27 Fire matches to fans in Chicago.
- COLLEGE SPORTS — THOUSANDS OF GAMES AND EVENTS, MULTIPLE SPORTS, ACROSS NEARLY TWO DOZEN CONFERENCES: The ESPN+ lineup will feature thousands of live sports events — football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track and field, gymnastics, swimming and diving, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, golf, and more — from more than a dozen conferences across the country, including the America East, ASun, Big South, Big West, Horizon, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, NEC, Southern Conference, Southland, Summit League, Sun Belt, and WAC. During Spring Sport season, ESPN+ will help college baseball and softball fans see more games than ever, with hundreds more from across the college ranks streamed live, exclusively on ESPN+. In the fall, ESPN+ will include hundreds of college football games each season from across more than a dozen conferences in the FBS and FCS. ESPN+ will also have hundreds of games this fall from soccer, volleyball, and field hockey as the 2018-19 academic year gets under way. And, this winter, college-hoops fans will get hundreds of men’s and women’s games every season on ESPN+ from all across the college-basketball landscape: from Division I powerhouses to top mid-majors to the next tournament Cinderella and more. Fans of Olympic sports will also get hundreds of wrestling, swimming and diving, gymnastics, and ice hockey events from a variety of conference partners nationwide exclusively on ESPN+.
- PGA TOUR LIVE GOLF — MORE THAN 100 DAYS OF COVERAGE FROM 31 PGA TOUR EVENTS: Golf fans will be able to follow the PGA TOUR throughout the year, with live coverage of 31 PGA TOUR events, including THE PLAYERS Championship, the FedEx Cup Playoffs, AT&T Byron Nelson, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Travelers Championship, and Arnold Palmer Invitational. Coverage will include Thursday, Friday, and some Saturday and Sunday play during the events.
- GRAND SLAM TENNIS — HUNDREDS OF TENNIS MATCHES FROM WIMBLEDON, US OPEN & AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Tennis fans will have access to more of the action than ever at three of the annual Grand Slam tennis events, with hundreds of men’s and women’s singles and doubles matches streamed on ESPN+.
- RUGBY AND CRICKET — HUNDREDS OF MATCHES FROM INTERNATIONAL RUGBY AND CRICKET: Rugby fans will get matches from SANZAAR (Super Rugby, The Rugby Championship, the Lions Series, Mitre10 Cup, Currie Cup, Bledisloe Cup, and other international matches), the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series, and 18 regular-season matches in the inaugural season of Major League Rugby, the new American professional rugby union league. Meanwhile, cricket fans across the U.S. will get matches across Test, ODI, and T20 formats from New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Ireland.
Subscribers will also be able to purchase the entire MLB.TV out-of-market package via ESPN+ and view the games within the ESPN App. MLB.TV will cost an additional $24.99 per month. Beginning with the 2018-19 NHL season, fans will be able to purchase the entire NHL.TV out-of-market package as well.
UPDATE 4/3/18: ESPN’s latest installment in the acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series, “The Last Days of Knight,” will be the first film in the award-winning series to appear exclusively on ESPN+.In addition to “The Last Days of Knight,” ESPN Films is developing other projects and docuseries for ESPN+.
“The Last Days of Knight” is the previously untold behind-the-scenes story of CNN’s investigation into why high school All-Americans were leaving Indiana University men’s basketball coach Bob Knight’s program, and the subsequent fallout after the story broke. “The Last Days of Knight” will be joined on ESPN+ by the entire archive of 30 for 30 films, more than 100 in total. ESPN+ will be the only platform where fans can access the full library. (See the entire list of 30 For 30 Films here). “The Last Days of Knight” is directed and narrated by Robert Abbott, the producer at CNN who first began investigating the story back in 1999. Trailer: https://es.pn/2GymLoQ