ESPN Introduces Cable-free Sports Service, ESPN+. Hides Surprise.
Background ESPN Subscribers Drop to 14-Year LowNetflix invaded the Super Bowl with shock and awe — — releasing a movie globally by taking out an ad in the big game, saying: watch this movie now; anywhere in the world, at no extra cost. (Telling people you don’t “need” a theatre)
ESPN follows Netflix. However their strategy is different, they are starting to plant landmines. April 2 ESPN+ was announced. This announcement is a big deal. ESPN will sell the service directly to home users and collect the money directly. Moreover, ESPN appears they are pulling out the scissors to cut their cable cord.
In the past, most cable subscribers were loathed to cancel cable because they would lose live sports. ESPN has always been the biggest draw for cable companies around the world. Each base customer TV package included the ESPN channel which is tied directly to other lesser know channels; this is normal for ESPN's parent company — Disney. Yes, Mickey Mouse owns ESPN.
Advertising on cable, just like broadcast networks, is defined by the network's reach and the programmes that attract the most engagement. ESPN was a gold mine, well that was until those nasty cord cutters left for another party. The flight was real. And financially detrimental to ESPN’s parent company. Disney required ESPN to do something.
Sorry [cable companies], we were trying something out, but don't worry, we are still bros. Ok?
That message is sure to make cable providers and the advertising community uncomfortable. Digital video providers Netflix and Amazon Prime promote ad-free subscriptions and don't offer TV ad insertion. ESPN’s app service introduction encourages the bypass of the cable company and their advertising service by other channels. Over time, ESPN+ can increase content to the app and raise prices to the consumer. That's when those landmines start going off.
Cable TV is democratizing. You don’t need a cable subscription, TV and cable box to access your favorite TV show, movies and soon live sports. Now, you only need a phone, tablet or flat screen. Where TV advertising fits into this new landscape is not 100% clear. All that can be said is: stay tuned.
The ESPN+ App service will launch for $5 a month with folloiwng introductory lineup of:
- MLB — A GAME PER DAY THROUGHOUT SEASON
- NHL — GAME OF THE DAY THROUGHOUT REGULAR SEASON
- BOXING — YEAR-ROUND SCHEDULE, INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE KHAN VS. LO GRECO BOUT: Top Rank Boxing on ESPN April 21 Amir Khan vs. Phil Lo Greco bout in Liverpool, UK.
- MLS — exclusive access to the entire MLS Live out-of-market schedule (blackouts apply). ESPN+ will be the exclusive local-market home for the Chicago Fire, bringing 27 Fire matches to fans in Chicago.
- COLLEGE SPORTS — football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track and field, gymnastics, swimming and diving, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, golf, including the America East, ASun, Big South, Big West, Horizon, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, NEC, Southern Conference, Southland, Summit League, Sun Belt, and WAC.
- PGA TOUR LIVE GOLF — 100 DAYS OF COVERAGE FROM 31 PGA TOUR EVENTS:including THE PLAYERS Championship, the FedEx Cup Playoffs, AT&T Byron Nelson, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Travelers Championship, and Arnold Palmer Invitational.
- GRAND SLAM TENNIS — WIMBLEDON, US OPEN & AUSTRALIAN OPEN
- RUGBY — Super Rugby, The Rugby Championship, the Lions Series, Mitre10 Cup, Currie Cup, Bledisloe Cup, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series, and 18 regular-season matches in the inaugural season of Major League Rugby, the new American professional rugby union league.
- CRICKET cricket fans across the U.S. will get matches across Test, ODI, and T20 formats from New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Ireland.