ESPN launches ESPN+, its very own streaming service

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ESPN’s subscription streaming service ESPN+ arrives today. In addition to being the sports media giant’s first big push into digital subscriptions, ESPN+ is also parent company Disney’s  first streaming launch since it took a majority stake in technology company BAMtech last year, with the explicit goal of helping Disney move into streaming.

The live games on ESPN+, which will include MLB, NHL, Major League Soccer and PGA events plus international sports like soccer, cricket, and rugby, will have traditional ad breaks — just like on TV — delivered using dynamic ad-insertion technology.

However, ESPN+ subscribers will not see standard display ads or pre- and post-roll video ads anywhere on the ESPN App, ESPN.com or connected-TV platforms. Instead of those traditional ad formats, for ESPN+ the programmer is focusing on securing integrated brand sponsorships; the launch sponsor for ESPN+ is American Express.

The service will cost $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year. This week, you can also sign up for a free 30-day trial, sponsored by American Express.

The new ESPN App will offer three tiers of content:

  • Free: The app will continue to offer sports scores, news, features and analysis, video
    highlights and clips, and a library of live and on-demand sports audio content;
  • “TV Everywhere” access: Subscribers of participating pay-TV operators will be able to log in for live and on-demand access to ESPN’s U.S. linear and digital networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNews, SEC Network, SEC Network +, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, Longhorn Network, ACC Network Extra);
  • ESPN+: Direct-to-consumer subscription streaming access to thousands of additional live sporting events, original content and shows, and a VOD library with thousands of hours of past sporting events, documentaries and other features.

In addition to ESPN+, Mayer’s DTCI encompasses the Disney-branded streaming service (as yet unnamed) set for a late-2019 debut.

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