ESPN+ Streaming Service Starts April 12

ESPN+ -- ESPN's answer to growing demand for over-the-top (OTT) media consumption and traditional pay TV declines -- will start up April 12, priced at $4.99 a month.

ESPN, the Walt Disney-owned media brand, says ESPN+ will be an integrated part of a completely redesigned and reimagined ESPN App -- an “all-in-one digital sports platform for fans.”

It will feature live sports, original content and a library of on-demand programming. ESPN+ will also be available through ESPN.com. Disney executives have been discussing the new service for a few months.

Many media observers believe the app may also resolve the problem of consumers leaving high-cost traditional pay TV packages -- so-called “cord cutters” -- who have impacted the ESPN cable networks and many other cable TV networks.

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At the same time, sports viewing has shifted to many digital media platforms.

The app comes from Disney’s new realigned Direct-to-Consumer and International group -- which houses media, technology and distribution of content created by Disney’s Media Networks and Studio Entertainment groups.

This is the group’s first effort for a Disney-branded direct-to-consumer service. A Disney subscription movie service -- featuring Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm movies along with exclusive content -- will be launched in late 2019.

Disney's technology unit, BAMTECH, a unit of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, is backing the services. ESPN recently named Disney veteran James Pitaro president of ESPN and co-chair, Disney Media Networks.

More programming details will be announced in the coming days, according to the company.

In the near term, ESPN+ will air more than 180 Major League Baseball games -- a game per day throughout the season. And beginning with the 2018-19 NHL season, ESPN+ will air more than 180 games, also a game per day throughout the season.

Consumers can also buy ESPN+ on a annual basis for $49.99 a year.

In addition, sports fans can purchase the entire MLB.TV out-of-market package via ESPN+, viewing the games within the ESPN App. MLB.TV will cost an additional $24.99 per month.

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