ESPN going to a subscription-streaming service

This isn’t really media smack but it seems to fit here. ESPN’s plans are no surprise, but they are a sign of things to come.

ESPN is laying the groundwork to sell its channel directly to cable cord-cutters as a subscription-streaming service in coming years, according to people familiar with the matter, a shift with profound implications for the company and the broader television business.

Executives at ESPN and its parent, Disney DIS 1.40%increase; green up pointing triangle, for years have said it was inevitable that the sports-TV channel would one day be available as a stand-alone streaming service. Now, as consumers increasingly cut the cable-TV cord, the company is actively preparing for that shift under a project with the internal code name “Flagship,” the people said. The company has set no firm timeline for the change.

ESPN would continue to offer the TV channel after launching a streaming option, the people familiar with the matter said. Still, the change could have a major impact on cable-TV providers, since ESPN is one of the main attractions of the cable bundle. The providers pay to carry the ESPN channel and would have to compete with the new streaming service.

ESPN has begun securing flexibility in its deals with cable providers to offer the channel directly to consumers, the people said. The financial terms of those deals couldn’t be learned. The company is having similar discussions with pro sports leagues as those rights deals come up and has secured the same flexibility from at least two major leagues, the people said.

On a related note, NBC/Peacock announced that next season one NFL playoff game will stream exclusively on Peacock (only airing on regular TV in the home markets of the 2 teams playing in that game).

Isn’t this the basis of ESPN+/Hulu/Disney+ combo, or am I reading the tea leaves wrong?

I realize that ESPN has had streaming stuff for a bit, with ESPN 3, and ESPN+. So to me the subscription streaming is just an extension of what they already have.

Yes, I realize I may have answered my own question, but this is a stream of consciousness flow.

1 Like

The homers on cougarboard have been laughing themselves silly about the PAC-12’s interest in streaming service partnerships with Apple and Amazon. Uh-oh. :joy:


Going back to Hod Sanders’ keen insight into the mind of the “cheap whiney bastard”, that fanbase has always been slow on the uptake in the media reality.

In 1984 they often had to rely on Paul James to show highlights because very few of them had cable. “We beat Pitt? Really? Do you have cable at your house? Is your dad a doctor or a lawyer?

Now that they’re on cable and the HD truck won’t make them the Notre Dame of the West, the world is moving to streaming.

How can I get one of those jailbroke firesticks?”


Those bozos don’t know their stuff from their elbows. So, let them laugh, and stay behind the curve.

1 Like

With cable and satellite services seeing increasing declines in subscribers, shifting to streaming only makes sense.

That said, the streaming service that combines these thing into a single subscription (FUBO, Amazon, Apple), will likely rule the results. Had Comcast gotten smart and simply pushed Xfinity Stream as their new platform (and made it affordable), they could make a run at bundling.


Kind of. They’ve announced Hulu and Disney+ are moving to one app by the end of the year. I could see ESPN being another. ESPN+ has fewer stuff - all the marque stuff is on ESPN or ESPN2, so an a la carte app that includes all of ESPN would be great. They were charging cable companies something like $6/month (may be dated) but could probably charge something like $10/mo and people would pay it.


That was certainly part of it. Another piece of that was that there were certain lawmakers that were trying to outlaw cable TV. Since one could get HBO on cable and it showed (gasp) nudity, then obviously that was porn and had to be eradicated. One quote that I remember from that time was “If I didn’t have someone looking out for me when I was a kid, I’d be at a bar or somewhere else partaking in some indecency”. So I assume that some of the folks wouldn’t have cable because of that gosh darn porn.



They are all using streaming porn! :joy::joy::joy::joy::joy::joy::joy:


Do these folks have any clue about human nature or history? I hit on the history portion of things like prohibition, sumptuary laws that tried to ban luxury items, etc. You can’t control human nature with laws like that. You can incentivize good behavior but not outlaw bad. Or to quote the great philosopher, Forrest Gump’s mother, “stupid is as stupid does.”


Not to derail too much but Utah did pass a law requiring porn viewers to register their identities including a photo before they can partake of their indecency. See how long that lasts.

Utah law requiring porn sites verify user ages takes effect | AP News

Anyway, I tried to catch a big Ute game a while back that was only on ESPN, and found that I could not stream the game unless I had it in a package from some cable provider including slingbox. As a new cable cutter with only lukewarm interest in the game, I decided to pass on it.

If I had the option I would have paid 5-7 bucks for one month just to watch the games I cared about. I’m in the target market for this move.