‘ESPN Plus’ Streaming Service to Debut Spring 2018

Disney CEO Bob Iger says subscribers will have access to “thousands of live sporting events”

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Disney CEO Bob Iger announced on the company’s Thursday earnings call the long-awaited ESPN streaming service will launch in the spring of 2018.

The service will be dubbed “ESPN Plus,” according to Iger.

“The product will be accessible through a new and fully redesigned ESPN app, which will allow users to access sports scores and highlights, stream out channels on an authenticated basis, and subscribe to ‘ESPN Plus’ for additional sports coverage for thousands of live sporting events,” said Iger.

The “one of a kind product” will be different from linear ESPN, the executive added. Iger said Disney will demo the new service in early 2018; he didn’t have details on subscription pricing.

Fourth quarter revenue from Disney’s cable networks was flat year-over-year, as the company grapples with the impact of cord-cutting on its sports cash cow. ESPN peaked at 100.1 million subscribers in 2011, but the cable network has dropped more than 12 million subscribers since its heyday. Iger said “ESPN Plus” will give Disney a new avenue to drive advertising sales — while also collecting a subscription fee.

“ESPN Plus” will debut ahead of the company’s plans for its ad-free Disney streaming service, which Iger said is coming in late 2019.