Following a massive announcement from Disney in September, we knew to expect a stand-alone on-demand streaming service for ESPN sooner than later, and during the Disney earnings call on Thursday, November 9, CEO Bob Iger revealed its moniker: ESPN Plus.
ESPN Plus will be powered by streaming distribution company BamTech — which Disney acquired 33 percent of for $1 billion last April, before increasing its stake to 75 percent this August — which was developed through Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media and powers such services as HBO Now and PlayStation Vue. The platform will launch in spring 2018, fully accessible via the ESPN mobile app (which will get yet another redesign), providing users with access to scores, stats, highlights, live channel streams, and on-demand recordings of “thousands of sports events.”
It’s currently unclear whether ESPN Plus will be available as a fully independent service or whether you need a cable/satellite TV package including ESPN. The service will apparently stream more than 10,000 live regional, national, and international sporting events each year, across a wide number of sports and leagues, including MLB, NHL, MLS, and Grand Slam tennis events (Wimbledon and the U.S., Australian, and French Opens).
Iger said that the service will likely command a smaller monthly fee than, say, Netflix or HBO, as those platforms feature far more content. Viewers will also be able to order individual packages like MLB.TV, MLS Live, and more, giving ESPN Plus a little more value for all the cord-cutters out there.
ESPN Plus isn’t the only streaming service Disney’s got on the burner, either. After deciding to launch its own platform at some point in the next few years, Disney announced it would be pulling all Star Wars and Marvel content (Defenders shows notwithstanding) from Netflix, simultaneously building anticipation for Disney fans and dealing a sizable blow to the streaming king. The service, which doesn’t yet have a name or a planned debut date, will feature movies from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, as well as exclusive content created specifically to exist on the platform. Subscribers will also have access to content from Disney subsidiary channels like Disney Junior and Disney XD.