Plus will cost $4.99 per month and allow live streaming of ESPN channels only to those who already have cable or satellite service that includes ESPN. "With this service having massive amounts of sports content, it's the ideal foray into streaming in our opinion with Disney's standalone service coming down the pike slated for 2019, with the Fox acquisition and Hulu ownership making the company a legitimate streaming player".
For that, ESPN+ customers will get thousands of live events annually, including pro baseball, hockey and soccer, as well as tennis, boxing, golf and college sports not available on ESPN's traditional TV networks. Excluding those games, ESPN ad revenue was still down 7%.
"What we're really doing is preparing to be able to thrive in the future however the business models, the way people consume content, evolves", then-ESPN president John Skipper said in December at the SVG Summit shortly before his resignation.
"The strategic investments we've made have driven meaningful growth over the long term, and we remain confident in our ability to continue to deliver significant shareholder value", said Disney Chairman and CEO, Robert A. Iger.
Speed will a key component of the app's redesign, according to Aaron LaBerge, ESPN's chief technology officer.
To counter the shift to online viewing, Disney will launch a streaming service for sports fans in the spring called ESPN Plus to reach digital audiences, followed by a family entertainment offering in 2019. It will enable access to live streams of all ESPN's networks providing consumers or subscribers to multi-channel packages.
Scores, highlights, shows like Pardon the Interruption, and ESPN films - including the acclaimed 30 for 30 documentaries - will also be available on the service. "We feel the faster we make the experience, more usage comes from that". It will feature an intuitive interface, improved sound quality and a personalized experience that will take explicit choices and implied behavior to tailor it to the taste of the user. "In addition to that, a lot of other programming like the 30 for 30 series", Iger said.
Skipper before stepping down emphasized that ESPN's strategy was ultimately about providing more content.
ESPN is hoping to stem its losses from dropping membership in recent months by directly competing against the old model of pay television channel bundles.
ESPN Plus: When will it be available?
We don't think it's anti-cannibalization.
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