ESPN+ passes 1m subscriber mark in five months
Walt Disney’s ESPN+, the over-the-top streaming platform from the US sports broadcaster that went live on 12 April, has already signed up more than 1 million subscribers, albeit ESPN admitted that a “minority” of these were subscribers to the existing ESPN Insider service who had been transferred to ESPN+.
Hampered by falling cable subscriptions for ESPN, the OTT move was aimed at helping Disney tackle ‘cord-cutters’, namely those customers that have cancelled their linear television subscriptions in favour of receiving programmes via digital delivery methods.
Kevin Mayer, chairman, direct-to-consumer and international at Disney, said: “We’re thrilled so many sports fans have quickly come to love the service. The future is bright and we believe growth will continue as we add features, distribution partners and more exclusive content in the coming months.”
The platform, which is available via the ESPN App for $4.99 per month or for $49.99 for an annual subscription, offers coverage of coverage of Major League Baseball, NHL ice hockey, Major League Soccer and other top national soccer leagues, UFC mixed martial arts, PGA Tour golf, tennis, boxing, rugby, cricket and US college sports.
ESPN+ has grown faster than other OTT services such as WWE Network, which took 11 months to attract 1 million subscribers, and its decision in August to transfer subscribers from ESPN Insider has been credited by some with helping to boost this growth.
However, without giving specific figures, an ESPN spokesperson tweeted: “Vast majority of the 1M are new subscribers, who’ve signed up for ESPN+ since launch in April. Adding ESPN Insider to ESPN+ did add some, but they account for a minority. Adding Insider to ESPN+ was about simplifying digital subscription offering – while adding value to sub.”
The launch of ESPN+ followed the broadcaster’s acquisition of a majority stake in BAMTech, the live-streaming technology company, in 2016.
Having bought a 33-per-cent shareholding in BAMTech for $1 billion, Disney agreed to pay $1.58 billion to secure an additional 42-per-cent stake in the company born out of Major League Baseball Advanced Media.
Jimmy Pitaro, president of ESPN and co-chair, Disney Media Networks, said: “Combining sports, technology and the ESPN brand is a very powerful combination, and we are just getting started. Very quickly, a wide range of sports fans have seen the value of ESPN+. With high quality programming and an outstanding user experience, ESPN and DTCI [Direct-to-Consumer & International] are expanding the ways Disney is serving sports fans.”