As more streaming services bundle together platforms for a one-stop streaming app experience, does it make sense for ESPN to branch off on its own standalone service? Sports fans may appreciate this move but how would this work out price-wise when compared to bundle prices?
ESPN started considering the move years back. Currently, you can watch ESPN on its network channel through costly cable providers or sign up for Disney+ which carries the sports content along with Hulu. The Disney bundle alone is cheaper than the cable version. You can’t just pick one channel out of hundreds to sign up for, unlike streaming services offering a more personalized approach to entertainment packages.
The Trio Basic Disney+ plan costs $12.99 per month and offers more than just ESPN. Not a fan of the ads? You can upgrade to the Trio Premium plan for $19.99 a month. That sounds like a better deal, right?
ESPN+ just by itself is $9.99 per month. An annual subscription costs just $99.99, about 15 percent less than opting for the monthly charge. Other streaming services offer ESPN content, including YouTube TV, DIRECTV Stream, Sling TV, and Fubo, which don’t require a cable subscription to watch.
MoffettNathanson thinks ESPN bundling in with ESPN+ via the Disney bundle would be the best move for the network. It would “deliver enough premium content to reduce church, aggregate engagement, and substantial non-programming cost savings,” said Michael Nathanson, Senior Research Analyst at MoffettNathanson.
He went on to say, “We believe that a sports-only streaming app is a tough model and that sports integrated in a general entertainment service a la Peacock or Paramount Plus makes more sense. Given the current light penalties for cheating the MVPD system, we would argue that Disney could create more stickiness and audience flow integrating ESPN into Hulu and Disney Plus than trying to build a standalone premium service.”
ESPN has a sweet spot within the Disney+ bundle. ESPN+ and Disney+ both have millions of subscribers and keeping their audiences combined just further expands the reach of both companies. If ESPN were to branch out on its own, the cost of membership could be well over the $9.99 to $19.99 prices offered through its current platforms. With ratings going up, and more subscribers joining every quarter, sticking with Disney seems to be ESPN’s best and cheapest option, for both the network and its audience.