Disney+ Will Add Some ESPN in December and All ESPN Channels in 2025             





In May 2023, we learned that Disney was building a stand-alone ESPN streaming service. This would allow sports fans to subscribe to ESPN without cable TV or a live TV streaming service, giving cord cutters a way to watch ESPN networks for the first time without paying for other channels.

Bob Iger, speaking at the MoffettNathanson’s Media, Internet & Communications Conference, has given us some new dates for when and how ESPN will launch the streaming service.

“And then ultimately, we mentioned on our earnings call last week that there’ll be an ESPN tile as there is a Hulu tile on the app. And, starting in December, there’ll be—it will start with, I’ll call it, ESPN lite and, ultimately, when our so-called flagship product of the full ESPN suite of services launches in 2025, that will be there, too. And if you look at Disney+ and Hulu and ESPN, you increase engagement to an extraordinary level. That is probably, in terms of all the things we have to do to turn it into a profitable business, is the first and biggest step.”

Details are still thin about the service but here is what we know:

When asked about the future of ESPN as a direct streaming service during Disney’s first 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,” 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.”

Not that long ago, ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro made it clear that ESPN will be a streaming service but just not yet. “We’re going to get to a point where we take our entire network, our flagship programming, and make it available direct to consumer,” Pitaro said in an interview with Bloomberg. “That’s a ‘when,’ not an ‘if’…. We’re only going to do it when it makes sense for our business and for our bottom line.”

Even though Disney may be looking at 2025 for the release date, it is reported that they are already building the service. The project is called “Flagship” and is part of Disney’s plan to be ready for the day cable TV comes to an end.

Sadly, pricing and other details are still unknown at this time.

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