ESPN to launch streaming service

Facing lower ad revenue and lagging membership, ESPN will launch in the coming months a paying streaming service, Disney CEO Bob Iger said Tuesday.

ESPN Plus will be available as part of a revamped ESPN mobile app, Iger said, without providing a precise launch date.

With a single app, users will be able to bypass their television provider to view some 10,000 sport events a year whose rights were purchased by Disney, ESPN’s parent company.

“The scores and highlights will be improved with better audio, better video quality, better user interface, as well as basically more customization and personalization,” Iger told CNBC.

“In addition to that, you’ll be able to watch on the same app streamed live ESPN networks, provided you are a subscriber to one of the services — traditional or non-traditional.”

And via ESPN Plus, users will have access to “an array of live programming that is not available… on the current channels, and that’s by the thousands. In addition to that, a lot of other programming like the 30 for 30 series,” Iger said.

The Disney chief said the service would cost $4.99 a month, confirming that Disney intends to launch its own separate streaming service for non-sports programming next year in order to keep its market share in the face of competition from Amazon and Netflix.

ESPN is hoping to stem its losses from dropping membership in recent months by directly competing against the old model of pay television channel bundles.

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