ESPN+ instant hit in USA, paid subscribers reach 1 mn mark in 5 months

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Walt Disney’s digital sports platform ESPN+ is an instant hit in the USA. While digital medium giants like Amazon and Facebook are consolidating their sports content with massive business strategies, ESPN+ has breached the 10 million mark for the registered paid subscribers in a little over five months since its launch.

The Walt Disney Company in a major strategic shift last year had purchased a majority stake in live streaming specialist BAMTech. Then came ESPN+. Disney’s first dedicated direct-to-consumer service was an instant hit among consumers.

Walt Disney’s major initiative to cater to the changing sports content consumption landscape, subscription video service ESPN+ has hit bulls-eye. Company has officially announced that the ESPN+, positioned as a means of helping Walt Disney’s sports-media giant weather a storm of consumers cutting the cord on its flagship cable outlet, has garnered more than one million paying subscribers in just over five months.

“Reaching one million paid subscribers is an important milestone for any video subscription service, but reaching this benchmark in such a short amount of time is an incredible testament to the teams from DTCI and ESPN who have worked tirelessly to bring this product to market and continually improve it since our April launch,” Direct-to-Consumer and International, The Walt Disney Company, chairman Kevin Meyer has stated in a Press statement. “We’re thrilled so many sports fans have quickly come to love the service. The future is bright and we believe growth will continue as we add features, distribution partners and more exclusive content in the coming months.

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ESPN has packed the new service with sports programming like worldwide football games and new matches from Major League Baseball and, soon, the National Hockey League, along with original programming featuring basketball star Kobe Bryant and popular digital-sports personality Katie Nolan. The service costs $4.99 a month, or $49.99 per year.

“Combining sports, technology and the ESPN brand is a very powerful combination, and we are just getting started,” said Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN’s president, in a statement. “Very quickly, a wide range of sports fans have seen the value of ESPN+. With high quality programming and an outstanding user experience, ESPN and DTCI are expanding the ways Disney is serving sports fans.”

ESPN, like most other cable giants, has suffered from consumers migrating to other kinds of video distribution, including slimmer programming packages made available through Sling, Hulu or YouTube. Kagan, a market-research firm, has predicted ESPN’s cable and satellite customers will fall to 85.6 million by the end of the year. That would represent a more than 14% drop since 2010. By launching ESPN+, Disney hopes to lure die-hard fans of particular sports, even teams, to keep paying money for its services, even if they choose to leave its best-known cable roost. Disney plans to unveil a general-entertainment streaming service in months to come.

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