Movies

Disney May Turn ESPN Into A Standalone Streaming Service


I know what you’re probably thinking: wouldn’t a standalone ESPN streaming service feel redundant after Disney has already sunk so much money into turning ESPN+ into a thing? And wouldn’t this only continue to incentivize viewers to simply … go back to their usual cable providers instead of subscribing to a dozen different streaming services? Reader, you’d be absolutely right. As someone who still needs traditional providers for all his sports needs, I can confirm that there’s absolutely nothing more alienating to fans of all ages than when teams sign exclusive deals with various streaming services — be it Hulu, Prime Video, Apple TV+, or even Peacock — to air certain games during the regular season.

Thankfully, this early experiment with familiarizing viewers with these streaming services has (mostly) required only a free trial in order to watch a game, but check certain keywords on social media during any one of these instances and you’ll likely see nothing but seething fans who either dislike the cobbled-together broadcasts or refuse to even watch on those days at all.

Nevertheless, all those potential dollar signs are apparently too much for Disney to ignore. Chapek went on to say that, “But I can tell you that it will be the ultimate fan offering that will appeal to super fans that really love sports. And I think there’s nobody but ESPN [that] could actually pull that off, but we don’t have a lot of specifics when it comes to structure.” As much as movie fans might be feeling the squeeze when it comes to the increasingly fractured streaming landscape, sports fans are probably even more notoriously resistant to change. I just can’t imagine a future where the masses line up to subscribe to ESPN+ Plus or whatever this ends up being called, especially when savvy fans can easily find, ah, alternative means (disclaimer: not that I or /Film would ever endorse such a thing!) to the occasional national broadcast during games that are blacked out from regional networks.

In other words, godspeed and good luck with all that, Disney.



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