Once it launches, subscribing to ESPN’s standalone streaming service could put a dent in your wallet. The sports network is considering charging $20 to $35 a month for the new service, code-named Flagship, but it could be more, according to The Information.
The rate is significantly higher than the standard subscription service — Disney+, for example, will cost $13.99 after its upcoming price hike in October, but speaks to its value to sports fans. That Disney is considering such a rate shows how valuable it is to the existing cable bundle, and how the company needs to tread carefully as it makes the transition to a direct-to-consumer offering.
ESPN already has lucrative deals with cable companies and the ability to bundle Disney channels with ESPN earned Disney $28 billion in revenue from traditional TV channels. On average, the Disney-owned network reportedly makes about $9.42 from each cable subscriber. Offering the service as a standalone streaming offering could significantly hurt cable TV, since ESPN is one of the main reasons the traditional bundle still exists.
On the flip side, the service’s prospective price could drive away folks who are already drowning in subscriptions and looking for ways to cut back on costs.
So far, the direct-to-consumer streaming service is aiming for a 2025 launch, according to the report. Disney CEO Bob Iger is open to partnering with other companies to get Flagship off the ground, as well as selling parts of ESPN to other companies. According to reports, both Verizon and Amazon have shown interest.
“Taking ESPN direct-to-consumer isn’t a matter of if, but when,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said earlier this month during the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call.
ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro has also echoed Iger’s sentiment. Pitaro said Disney and ESPN will pull the trigger when “it makes sense for business and for our bottom line.”
For now, sports fans can stick with ESPN on cable or subscribe to ESPN Plus, a streaming service that offers a collection of live sporting events, classic games and studio shows as well as original programming, for $6 a month. Customers can also bundle ESPN Plus with Disney Plus and Hulu for $13 a month. ESPN wasn’t immediately available for comment.