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Report: ESPN Plus Targets 15 Million Subscribers in 2021, Drive Higher ARPU

Jeff Kotuby

As Disney further dives into the streaming, it’s looking to one of its most well-known properties for streaming growth in 2021. An article from Julia Alexander of Musings on Mouse, a self-described, “weekly newsletter dedicated to Disney, the corporation and the culture,” says that Disney’s goal is to increase that number of ESPN+ subscribers to at least 15 million by their fiscal year end (September 2021).

That target would be up from the 10.3 million at the end of Q4 2020 (September 2020) and 11.5 million they announced in December. Another major goal for ESPN+, reports Alexander is to double subscriber revenue.

To do that without doubling subscribers, the company will need to find additional ways to monetize their subscribers. In December, Disney announced ESPN+’s pricing would increase from $49.99 to $59.99 per year. UFC pay-per-views also increased in price from $64.99 to $69.99. The company also will be increasing their Disney Bundle (which includes ESPN+) to $13.99 a month in March.

ESPN as a property is still massively successful but ESPN+ remains unsure of what it wants to be. ESPN+ was struggling to add a meaningful number of subscribers prior to a bundle with Disney+ and Hulu that saw its subscriber count rise, but not to the level many within the company thought it would. ESPN’s streaming struggle mirrors Disney’s, as both try to figure out how to turn a profit on their vast streaming services.

Expect ESPN’s incoming agreement with PGA Tour Live as well as its existing deal with UFC to play key roles in increasing ESPN+’s userbase going forward. Starting next college football season, ESPN+ will also host a select schedule of SEC games with ESPN becoming the exclusive home to SEC football in 2024.

Currently, ESPN+ serves as the exclusive home for the UFC, as well as niche and regional sports, original programming like 30 for 30, Peyton’s Places, and In the Crease, ESPN Radio’s video feeds (formerly seen on ESPNEWS) and more.

Viewers can access the ESPN App on most major streaming players including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, gaming devices like PS5 and Xbox Series X, mobile devices on iOS, Android, and most major browsers.

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