Disney+ Set to Score Big Adding Live ESPN Games and Shows in 2024





In a significant strategic shift, Disney is gearing up to integrate select live sports and ESPN studio shows into its flagship streaming service, Disney+, by the end of 2024.

Disney CEO Bob Iger, while addressing Wall Street analysts on the fiscal second-quarter earnings call, expressed optimism about the move, drawing parallels to the successful integration of Hulu content into Disney+. This expansion is part of Disney’s broader vision to transform Disney+ into a hub for the company’s premier content, including exhilarating live sports events.

The initiative is positioned as an initial phase in a broader plan to enhance the standalone ESPN streaming service, slated for a fall 2025 launch. “We see this as a first step to bring to ESPN-Disney+ viewers as we ready the enhanced stand-alone ESPN streaming service in the fall of 2025,” Iger explained.

Additionally, Disney is collaborating with Fox Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery to create a new sports streaming service, launching later this year. Unlike the standalone ESPN or the enhanced Disney+ offerings, this joint venture, whimsically dubbed “Spulu,” will aggregate 14 linear feeds from various sports-centric networks, though it notably excludes content from major sports rights holders like NBCUniversal or Paramount Global.

This strategic enhancement of Disney+ is set to enrich the viewer experience by providing access to top-tier sports content, including NCAA sports, the expanded College Football Playoff, and potentially NBA games, according to recent speculations. Iger also highlighted the ongoing challenges posed by subscriber declines for ESPN, asserting that the inclusion of ESPN content on Disney+ is a forward-looking move to boost engagement and adapt to the evolving media landscape, where digital consumption continues to ascend.

As Disney+ and Hulu celebrate a milestone of achieving profitability for the first time, the addition of ESPN content is expected to further bolster Disney’s streaming portfolio. Despite a modest $18 million operating loss reported by ESPN+ in the quarter, Disney remains confident in achieving overall streaming profitability by the end of fiscal 2024, reinforcing a goal set back in 2019. This development not only promises to enhance Disney+’s offering but also marks a pivotal step in modernizing how viewers engage with sports, ensuring Disney remains at the forefront of the digital streaming revolution.

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