By Sahil Patel
It seems like everyone is now looking to go over-the-top. This includes ESPN, which remains the most expensive cable network. Recently, the Disney-owned giant announced a deal with the NBA, as part of a new multi-year rights package, to create a digital video service that would make live games available to those who don’t pay for an ESPN cable subscription.
But there are no details on when such a service would go live — all we have is confirmation that even ESPN is looking ahead to what the future of TV might be.
That said, there’s a chance people will have access to an ESPN-built sports SVOD service in the near future — just in time for the 2015 Cricket World Cup. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
ESPN, which is a major rights-holder in the world of international cricket, is considering launching a subscription video service that would give US viewers the chance to watch the next World Cup, according to a report from Recode.
Running every four years, the ICC Cricket World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. The next iteration begins in February, hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
A subscription service for the World Cup would certainly create an additional revenue stream for ESPN without disrupting its pay-TV business. As Recode notes from a previous interview with ESPN boss John Skipper, the company sees digital as an additive component to its existing, very profitable, business.
Plans haven’t been finalized for ESPN to go over-the-top with its 2015 Cricket World Cup plans — but it should. In the US, there are as many as 30 million cricket fans, based on what Russell Wolff, EVP and managing director of ESPN International, said to Reuters earlier this year. That’s an audience that isn’t currently paying ESPN for cricket.