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Report: Disney Wants to Bring ESPN+ Streaming Service to Cable Companies

Jason Gurwin

Disney and Charter are currently in the midst of negotiating a new carriage deal, which has passed it’s current deadline with a temporary extension. According to a report in CNBC, one of the hangups is that Disney wants to bring ESPN+ to cable boxes, while also expanding the amount of live games that can be put on the service.

This wouldn’t be the first time a streaming service would come to cable. One of Charter’s biggest rivals, Comcast, has been a big believer in bundling streaming and cable with their X1 box. They have added services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and others.

The question is — with ESPN and it’s sister stations asking for nearly $10 a subscription — which cable companies allow them to move valuable content to their ESPN+ — which will cost subscribers an additional $4.99 a month. Prior to the launch of ESPN+, most of the overflow content went to ESPN3, which was bundled at no additional cost to cable subscribers.

It’s not clear whether they would completely pull events from ESPN for their streaming service or put on secondary telecasts. At a WSJ event in May, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro indicated the telecasts may not match exactly what you see on ESPN. “You can 100% expect to see more of that, where we don’t just have the broadcast for linear television, we can do something a bit different for the ESPN+ service,” said Pitaro

Much of the growth to ESPN+ has been attributed to the addition of UFC which premiered in January. After 7 years with Fox, UFC signed a $150 million per year rights deal with ESPN to air events on their linear channel and streaming service.

In addition to UFC, ESPN’s direct-to-consumer OTT streaming service includes access to daily out-of-market NHL, MLB, MLS games, international soccer coverage, college sports, original shows, and the entire library of 30 for 30 content. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year and includes live and on demand sports programming.

In February, Disney CEO Bob Iger, shared that the service had reached 2 million subscribers. Disney has said that they expect to expand the service to Latin America in the near future.

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