Today, Disney announced that its sports streaming service ESPN+ added 1 million subscribers in the first three months of 2022, to grow its base to 22.3 million customers. The total is up 62% from this time last year when ESPN+ had 13.8 million subscribers. But that number requires a giant asterisk - the service gained as many as 4 million subscribers when Hulu Live TV began including it for free in December.
The sports-focused service totaled 21.3 million that the streamer reported as of the end of 2021, so today’s number represents 4% growth for the quarter.
During the first three months of 2022, Disney’s flagship streamer Disney+ added 7.9 million subscribers to climb to 137.7 million worldwide while Hulu added 300,000 subscribers across its subscription video-on-demand and live TV streaming services to climb to 45.6 million.
When combining all of Disney’s streaming subscriptions, they total 205 million, just 16M shy of Netflix’s now precarious total. Of course, thanks to bundling and overlap, that total is inflated, but given the relative newness of the services, Disney might not be battling the password-sharing epidemic that Netflix is as well.
Some of the key drivers that have led to the growth of ESPN+ have been the addition of exclusive live NHL games and out-of-market package, PGA Tour Live, and the necessity of the service to stream UFC events.
Shortly after putting together a strong 2021 campaign, ESPN announced it was doubling down on efforts to populate ESPN+ and its digital offerings. In 2021 alone, ESPN added the broadcasting rights to the NHL, KHL, PHL (formerly the NWHL), LaLiga, Bundesliga, the Emirates FA Cup, and IPL Cricket, while extending and improving the platforms’ NFL, NCAA, PGA Tour, UFC, and tennis coverage.
Over the last few months, ESPN has added PLL lacrosse, Athletes Unlimited softball and lacrosse, Hockey East college hockey, exclusive Oklahoma Sooners content through “Soonervision,” and, probably most important of all, two Savannah Bananas Banana Ball World Tour games.
We’ve also seen ESPN+ receive its fair share of alternate broadcasts following the overwhelming success of the “ManningCast.” Recently, it was announced that the newly-acquired Joe Buck would lend his services to an alternate broadcast of the PGA Championship alongside ESPN golf analyst Michael Collins.
Maybe most importantly of all was the confirmation that ESPN+ would receive exclusive broadcasting rights to an international NFL game. The NFL’s Week 8 international game between the Denver Broncos and the Jacksonville Jaguars will air exclusively on ESPN+. The matchup will emanate from London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday, October 30, beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET.
ESPN+ is a live TV streaming service that gives access to thousands of live sporting events, original shows like Peyton’s Place, the entire library of 30 for 30, E:60, The Last Dance, as well exclusive written analysis from top ESPN insiders.
The service can be subscribed for $6.99 / month per month or annually for $69.99 / year.
You will get a daily out-of-market game from MLB, and every out-of-market NHL and MLS game with NHL.TV and MLS LIVE.
The service has some of the most attractive soccer coverage including Bundesliga, LaLiga, FA Cup, UEFA Nations League, EFL Championship, EFL Carabao Cup, Eredevise and more.
College sports fans will be able to watch thousands of games and events including football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track & field, gymnastics, swimming & diving, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, golf, and more.
For boxing and UFC fans, the service offers Top Rank boxing and will be the home of 15 exclusive UFC events.
ESPN+ now includes exclusive insights from analysts like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay (which used to be part of ESPN Insider), as well as premium Fantasy Tools & PickCenter.