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ESPN+ to Raise Price by 43% Next Month; Disney Bundle Price Unaffected… for Now

Matt Tamanini

If you’ve been following the news around live sports rights recently, you know how expensive it can be for networks to secure live sporting events for their airwaves. And given that major media companies are now routinely shelling out billions of dollars to acquire this highly desirable content, it was only a matter of time before those costs were passed on to consumers.

On Friday, Disney confirmed they would be raising the price of its additive sports streaming service ESPN+ by $3 per month beginning on Aug. 23. Currently, a monthly subscription runs $6.99, but that will go up to $9.99 next month. The annual rate will similarly rise, going from $69.99 to $99.99. Current ESPN+ subscribers should expect to receive official word from the worldwide leader in sports beginning next week.

You can lock in the $69.99 pricing for another year if you sign-up prior to the Aug. 23 price hike.

The price increase comes almost exactly one year after ESPN+ last raised rates. On Aug. 13, 2021, the streamer raised its fees from $5.99 to $6.99. This new rate is a jump of 43%, indicating that Disney is making the move not purely based on inflationary reasons.

“While it is a significant change to the price, it’s reflective of the increased scope, scale and value of ESPN+ as we continue to add significantly to both live sports and original programs & series, and it is part of an established plan to ensure ESPN+ is a profitable and strong long-term business,” a Disney representative confirmed to The Streamable.

Interestingly, Disney confirmed that the price hike for the sports streamer will not impact the going rate for the Disney Bundle for now, which packages subscriptions to ESPN+ with Hulu and Disney+. Currently, the Bundle rate that includes Hulu with ads is $13.99 per month and $19.99 without; both will remain unchanged.

However, it is believed that Disney will raise the rates on Disney+'s premium tier once the streamer unveils its lower-cost option later this year.

ESPN+ currently has a wide array of coverage that complements its traditional broadcast offerings — including additional matches and coverage of tennis and golf tournaments. The service is also home to a number of under-the-radar niche sports and series lead by some of the most compelling voices in sports.

Last year, ESPN+ added 75+ exclusive NHL games that don’t air on linear TV, along with the entire NHL out-of-market package, formerly known as NHL.TV. Earlier in 2022, the streamer became the home of PGA Tour LIVE and will stream its first exclusive NFL game later this year.

However, ESPN’s stranglehold on sports rights is not impenetrable.

Currently, ESPN+ carries MLS Live, the soccer league’s out-of-market package, which makes up a significant portion of the streaming service’s summer offerings, but not for long. This spring, Apple announced a deal to broadcast all MLS games for a decade beginning in 2023.

While linear ESPN could maintain some portion of the traditional MLS broadcast rights, the Apple deal comes as a fairly significant blow to ESPN+’s ability to offer extensive live sports year-round. Therefore, the company will likely need to increase its investment for content in the summer months.

In nearly every rights deal that ESPN does, the company now includes some sort of streaming agreement for content to be available on ESPN+. And while the 43% increase certainly comes with a bit of sticker shock, ESPN+ has always been considerably cheaper than its sports streaming competitors.

Both the recently soft-launched Bally Sports+ and DAZN currently charge $19.99 per month, while NESN’s Boston-area in-market streamer runs $29.99. While none of those services are an exact apples-to-apples comparison for what ESPN+ is attempting to assemble on its service — and their subscriber numbers are much smaller than those of ESPN+’s — it does show that there is an audience for a higher-priced sports streamer, assume that the content makes the price worth the investment.

One of ESPN+’s biggest draws is access to certain UFC pay-per-view events. While these fights do not come included with a subscription, access to them is reserved for ESPN+ subscribers. UFC raised the rates for these events in January 2021, but they will maintain the current levels, despite ESPN+’s monthly rate increase.

In May, Disney reported that ESPN+ had added 1 million subscribers in the first three months of 2022, growing the streamer’s subscriber base to 22.3 million customers; up 62% year-over-year.

ESPN+

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 $9.99 / month per month or annually for $99.99 / year.

You will get a daily out-of-market game from MLB, and every out-of-market NHL with NHL Power Play (previously NHL.TV). For NFL Fans, they have an exclusive NFL game, and simulcast select Monday Football games.

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.

What it does not include is most live sports that air on ESPN and ESPN2.

To get access to those channels you have to subscribe to a live TV streaming service. We suggest reading our guide on How to Watch ESPN without Cable.

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