Sports is one of the top reasons people are hesitant to cut the cord. Shows, such as the Walking Dead and Better Call Saul, are just as good the next day, but live events, such as sports, are something many cord cutters understandably want live.
Last summer a Disney executive who oversees ESPN talked about the possibility of a standalone ESPN service similar to HBO NOW, and it looks as though Disney may be getting closer to releasing their own standalone live TV streaming service.
In a major step toward a standalone ESPN service, Disney has purchased a third of the Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) streaming business (called BAM Tech). MLBAM already powers the PGA Tour, NHL, WWE Network, The Blaze, and is used in the HBO NOW service.
Part of the deal also gives Disney the ability to acquire an additional third of the streaming arm that would give them a majority control of the service.
“You see the biggest sports media company moving to greater digital delivery,” said Chris Russo, a former National Football League executive who now heads sports investment banking at Houlihan Lokey Inc. in New York. “It really shows they’re trying to get ahead of the digital phenomenon rather than being left behind it.”
With the purchases of MLBAM Disney now has a ready to go streaming service for ESPN. Although we do not know any details or have a set time frame, it is possible that a standalone ESPN streaming service could be released by the end of the year.
Disney has been one of the early adopters of cord cutting, with their agreements with Netflix two years ago and Sling TV last year. A national streaming ESPN beat FS1 to cord cutters by almost a year and Disney has been willing to work with PlayStation Vue and other streaming services, such as SFN TV NOW. Hopefully others will take notice of Disney’s success with cord cutters and bring more options to them.
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