ESPN announced earlier this year the network is seriously considering forming its own standalone streaming app. This app is said to be different from ESPN+, which is already available although it doesn’t offer live ESPN broadcasts. Now, people are venturing a guestimate of how much this potential sports streaming service could cost subscribers.
During the first quarterly earnings call this year, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger said adding an ESPN streaming service is “inevitable… [it’s] not just about how many subscribers we could get, it’s also about what is the pricing power of ESPN.” The network plans to keep its linear television channels alongside ESPN+ and the upcoming standalone streaming service.
The network brings in a lot of members for cable providers, but as more people look to cut the cord ESPN has been reconsidering its linear television strategy to better align with consumers’ convenience to watch their favorite sports teams. The network is researching ways to cut the cable cord itself, though that still is likely to be a long way off.
Sources report Citi Research analyst Jason Bazinet thinks setting the price at $22 a month for ad-free viewing will increase profits for both Disney and ESPN “with little risk [and] ample reward.” By combining content from both ESPN+ and the live channel, the new app would provide members with the best of both options via one convenient app.
“Investors view the move to streaming as inevitable,” said Jason Bazinet. “However, at another level, the market’s muted reaction is surprising. We believe ESPN’s transition to streaming could add [about] $20 per share to Disney’s equity value.”
Charging $22 a month keeps the new ESPN app under the cost of other sports streaming services, which don’t have quite the range of the largest national sports network. ESPN+ alone has around 25.3 million U.S. members while the network’s broadcasting channel has been losing audiences, down from 140 million since 2021.
Disney has long included ESPN+ in its bundle deal alongside Disney+ and Hulu, which starts at $12.99 a month. By itself, ESPN+ is $9.99 per month. Disney hopes to drive up subscriber numbers, and in return revenue, across all platforms with this new streaming strategy.