What NHL and NFL Deals Mean for ESPN’s Streaming Future

ESPN+ is quickly becoming a must-have

ESPN may not want to admit it just yet, but the sports giant’s future increasingly looks like it will be dominated by what is streaming on ESPN+ rather than what the dwindling subscribers to the cable-TV bundle can watch on ESPN.

This month alone, ESPN has secured more NHL and, for the first time, NFL games for its three-year-old streaming service. ESPN’s deal with the NHL, which puts the hockey league back on ESPN airwaves for the first time since 2004, greatly increases ESPN+’s foothold in the sport, which has previously been reduced to providing daily out-of-market local TV games. Starting next season, ESPN+ will stream 75 games exclusively, along with fellow Disney-owned streaming service Hulu, as well as simulcast ABC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals.

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Tim Baysinger

TV reporter • tim.baysinger@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tim_bays