News More News
If there’s one thing that ESPN President Jim Pitaro understands, it’s how to create a product that reaches consumers on their level. The network hopes that the former head of Walt Disney Co.’s consumer products and interactive media division will be able to transfer some of that magic to the launch of their streaming service on Thursday.
ESPN+ is shaping up to be a powerhouse of all things professional sports. It will take its rightful place among other major streaming services with a whole new outlook on the delivery of competitive entertainment.
The sports network had plateaued in popularity as cable prices went up, and subscriber numbers went down. Viewers discovered that they could get the same coverage for less by combining HD antennas, online options, and streaming services. With the rising cost of televised sporting events and waning consumer interest, ESPN was facing pressure from all sides to take their content a step further.
The Los Angeles Times reported on the launch, writing, “ESPN+ is the most aggressive step to date by ESPN to recapture consumers that are dropping its channels along with the rest of their pay TV subscriptions.”
At $4.99 a month, ESPN+ promises viewers an array of sports programming, complete with live coverage and original content. Pitaro stresses the “complementary” nature of the streaming service saying, “We are really doing this as a service that is complementary and additive and not competitive with the pay TV business. What you see on linear [TV] will not make its way on the subscription service. And what’s on the subscription service will not be on television.”
Subscribers can experience thousands of live sporting events with an on-demand feature that puts the viewer in control. Sports enthusiasts will be able to watch everything from Major League Baseball to PGA Golf with the click of a button. During down time, viewers will have access to every one of ESPN’s popular “30 for 30” sports documentaries.
ESPN+ has also developed its own original programming that features a weekly take on basketball, starring retired Laker legend Kobe Bryant. Access to these shows will be exclusive to the streaming service and create an additional incentive for die-hard sports fans.
As the president of ESPN, Pitaro faces a unique situation that requires him to maintain his loyalty to a traditional cable network while advertising the product that’s actively eroding it. This will be the test run for Disney’s direct-to-consumer video business and lay the groundwork for the release of Disney’s answer to Netflix in 2019.
ESPN has lost over 12-million pay TV subscribers since 2010, and industry experts predict that ESPN+ will slowly start to become the focus of the network as more and more viewers defect from their expensive cable providers.
Patricia Howard is a freelance journalist and Netflix enthusiast from rural Indiana. She has a bachelor's degree in communication with a concentration in journalism. When Patricia isn't writing, she enjoys catching up on her favorite shows with her husband and seven children.
Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site's editor.