Today Disney had some huge news about the future of the company, including ESPN. The first news was that ESPN was being broken off into its own division away from the rest of Disney’s TV brands. The second news was that Disney does plan to offer ESPN as a direct-to-consumer streaming option, but not yet.
When asked about the future of ESPN as a direct streaming service during Disney’s 1st quarter 2023 earnings call, CEO Bob Iger said, “Regarding ESPN and when we might make the shift, if you’re asking me, is the shift inevitable? The answer is yes, but I’m not going to give you any sense of when that could be, because we have to do it, obviously, at a time that really makes sense for the bottom line. And we’re just not there yet,” Bob Iger said. “And that’s not just about how many subscribers we could get, it’s also about what is the pricing power of ESPN, which obviously ties to the menu of sports that that they’ve licensed.”
This is not the first time Disney has hinted at offering ESPN directly to consumers, but this is the most forceful we can remember. Clearly, Disney and others are looking closely at when and how to jump off of the cable TV bundle and go a la carte.
The question now is not if ESPN will be available directly to consumers, likely through ESPN+, but when. With ESPN’s dominance in TV and sports, if Disney leaves the cable TV bundle, it is very likely most others will follow their lead.
Would you pay for just ESPN if you had the option to drop your cable bundle? Leave a comment and let us know.