A standalone ESPN streaming service will launch by fall 2025, as early as August, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said on Wednesday.
The Disney boss revealed the expected launch date in an interview with CNBC ahead of the entertainment giant’s earnings call, and called the direct-to-consumer service a “one-stop shop” for sports’ lovers during the company’s Wednesday earnings call.
In addition to including the “full suite of ESPN channels,” Iger said on CNBC “It will provide many more features,” including shopping, betting and other personalized and customizable features.
“Not only will consumers [will] be able to stream their favorite live games and studio programming, they’ll also have access to engaging digital integrations like ESPN bet and fantasy sports, e-commerce features and a deeper array of sports stats, all of which we know will be incredibly compelling to younger sports fans in particular,” Iger said on the earnings call. “It will also have very robust personalization features.”
Iger noted that the standalone streamer works to fulfill the company’s desire to “to serve sports fans wherever they are,” and revealed that there have been “productive conversations” with “potential content and marketing partners for ESPN.”
“We’re excited to offer a more unified streaming experience which will you expect will deliver strong benefits in terms of higher engagement, lower churn and greater advertising potential,” he said, adding the standalone ESPN service will be available on Disney+ for bundle subscribers “just as we’ve done for Hulu.”
In addition to the ESPN streamer, on Tuesday the company announced its joint venture with Fox Corp., Warner Bros. Discovery that will put ESPN, TNT and Fox Sports on a standalone app. The service is expected to launch in the fall, with each giant owning one third of the company, and subscribers would have the option to bundle the product, with Disney+, Hulu and Max.
With the company’s sights set on launching both of these new services, Iger explained the standalone ESPN service caters to sports fans who prefer not to participate in a bundled, multichannel option.
“There are a number of people who have never signed up for multichannel television. This gives them a chance to do so at a price point that will be obviously more attractive than the big fat bundle,” Iger said. “There are people who have left that ecosystem because they didn’t want all those channels or that cost. This is a way of basically preserving a relationship or creating one with those that are no longer part of the multichannel ecosystem.”
Iger added that the standalone ESPN service will differ “substantially” in cost when compared to the collaboration between ESPN, TNT and Fox Sports.