ESPN Stand-Alone Channel Coming?

ESPN has to have a game plan in a world that is moving -- albeit slowly -- to a stand-alone, a-la-carte TV/video ecosystem.

And early tea leaves point to a development of ESPN as a premium TV service.Bob Iger, chairman/chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co, said:  “I happen to believe that if we end up seeing more erosion in terms of the so-called multi-channel bundle, quality will win out and popularity will win out.”

He added that an ESPN stand-alone service might have more in comparison to HBO Now -- but targeting more subscribers. All this seems reasonable. But we also need to consider that ESPN currently garners a huge chunk of its revenues from advertisers.

Good news: Sports viewers indeed can be a different lot. Regional sports networks have done well wrapped as premium channels where consumers pay an extra monthly fee to their cable/satellite/telco, in addition to having to see commercials.  



DirecTV has spent billions on its NFL Sunday Ticket, where consumers can see every game of the NFL season -- with advertising. (Red Zone Channel doesn’t have commercials, however). TV consumers can spend $250 to $300 for the season-long NFL Sunday Ticket.

These development would have a ripple effect on altering traditional pay TV packages  -- which have for decades included ESPN as part of its standard basic package.

And then there is this: In its just-released earnings for its third quarter reporting period, Disney says while there was increase in subscribers, due to the new SEC Network launched in August 2014, this was “partially offset by a decline in subscribers at certain of our networks.” Many attribute subscriber erosion at ESPN to activity at  traditional pay TV providers -- through cord-cutting, cord-shaving or otherwise.

It comes down to this: An ESPN stand-alone/a-la-carte plan need to get into a sprint.

2 comments about "ESPN Stand-Alone Channel Coming?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 6, 2015 at 8:37 a.m.

    I doubt that ESPN would abandon its ad-supported/cable subscriber fee model for a stand- alonead-free subscription service. More likely is that the latter will be added to the existing mix, probably with different fare or more talking head content. I expect that the same ploy will soon be used by other conventional TV programmers----CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, ---etc as well as many cable programmers. For example why cant Bravo spin out its "Real Housewives of----" reality fare into an ad-free service? It would be pretty easy to add lots of material that was edited out of the series, coupled with interviews of the central characters and judicious use of reruns to turn out a service for dedicated fans of this concept. And what's stopping NBC---assuming it has the rights---from releasing a comedy greats service based on the old Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Bob Hope, Martha Raye, etc.  material as well as skits from the "Tonight Show", and "Saturday Night Live"? Why couldn't CBS do the same thing with its golden oldies---Gleason, Skelton, Danny Kaye, etc. plus material from the Letterman show? There are so many possibilities that the mind boggles at their potential.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 6, 2015 at 10:32 p.m.

    Would be terrific.....would they deduct the extra off of my cabile bill, too ?

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