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ESPN to debut standalone streaming service in late 2025

The service will integrate ESPN's fantasy and sports betting features.

The service will integrate ESPN's fantasy and sports betting features.

A sound technician with ESPN helps produce a telecast of a football game. (Photo by Maize & Blue Nation via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)
A sound technician with ESPN helps produce a telecast of a football game. (Photo by Maize & Blue Nation via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

The Walt Disney Company will debut a standalone, streaming version of its ESPN multiplex cable channels in late 2025, the company’s chief executive confirmed in a TV interview on Wednesday.

Speaking to CNBC after the company reported its latest financial earnings, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the forthcoming streaming version of ESPN will integrate a number of the sports brand’s digital platforms, including betting service ESPN Bet and the network’s fantasy sports service.

The service does not yet have a name, and no pricing has been revealed. It was not clear if the streaming service will only include content from ESPN’s linear networks — which includes college sports channels ACC Network, SEC Network and Longhorn Network along with ancillary channels like ESPN U — or if it will also include programming from ESPN Plus, Disney’s existing sports streamer that offers a different selection of live events.

The additional details on the standalone streaming version of ESPN come at a time when Disney is looking to address a consumer shift away from cable and satellite platforms toward cheaper online services. ESPN is typically the most-expensive channel for a cable or satellite platform to carry, and Disney’s carriage terms typically require it to be offered in base programming packages on pay television platforms.

As more consumers shift away from cable and satellite, the per-subscriber affiliate fees that Disney is able to collect from pay television platforms has decreased over time. To address this, the company last year put in motion plans to develop a streaming version of ESPN that would target cord-cutters and cord-nevers with the same programming found on cable and satellite.

The standalone version of ESPN is one of two ways Disney expects to offer the multiplex sports network beyond the cable bundle. This week, the company affirmed it was participating in a new joint venture with Fox Corporation and Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) to develop a streaming product with a collection of broadcast and cable networks focused on sports, including ESPN, Fox Sports 1, TBS and TNT.

Executives from the three companies confirmed the new sports streaming service, which also hasn’t been named, will debut later this year. No price has been revealed, but officials say they want the streaming service to be priced below a typical cable or satellite subscription.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).