Espn and the future

ESPN kind of looks screwed. If they offered a simple, low cost channel that actually carried a variety of live sporting events I’d pay a few bucks (up to $10) a month for that kind of access and variety. Unfortunately, the bulk of their current content seems largely populated by shows featuring mainly retired jocks blathering on about nothing important.

Disney said late last year that they know streaming is the future.

My guess is we will see a standalone ESPN service (in addition to ESPN being offered through traditional cable) for $20-$30. This will probably come alongside a Disney standalone service (like the one they launched in the UK) with maybe a discount for getting both.

Why would anyone pay for a standalone ESPN service that costs more than SlingTV which includes ESPN though?


On reddit, somebody told me that the cost of carrying ESPN by cable companies comes to $7.44USD per subscriber. They intend to raise that fee to $7.92USD by end of year.

Makes you wonder…

At the end of the day, the teams/leagues/athletes are all overpaid. A lot of these ESPN articles read to me like scare tactics to frighten people away from cord cutting - Don’t leave cable! ESPN will cost $30+ dollars a month if/when the cable business model falls apart and you will be paying more for your sports coverage.

That is a load of crap. The sports industry has been running a scam on the American public for years and it is finally falling apart on them. The networks have been forcing every TV subscriber to pay for their content whether they want it or not. ESPN is by far the biggest culprit among the networks. All of this money forced out of cable subscribers to pay ESPN then goes to the overpriced contracts that they pay to the leagues to air their content. The leagues then go on to overpay their players and staff and overspend in a multitude of ways.

That business model is no longer sustainable as TV subscribers find way to get content without paying for sports and other things they do not want. The sports industry can no longer be subsidized by non sports fans the way it used to be and that trend is only going to accelerate.

To fix that problem, ESPN cannot simply pass on the cost of their overpriced contracts to the loyal sports viewers. To do so will only ensure lower profits as more people say NO to ESPN. The market will determine what people are willing to pay for sports content from ESPN, as lower prices will see more subscribers and the networks eventually figure out what price point makes them the most profit. That is what ESPN will end up charging once the market has stabilized.

How much they charge will not be determined by how much they need to charge to make up for their lost cable income and pay for the contracts at the current rate. Instead - how much they can pay for new contracts will have to change based on what the market will bear. Which means, in the end, the leagues and the teams will need to tighten their budgets or find alternative sources of income.

1 Like

Why would anyone pay $150 for 200+ channels when they really only use a handful?

Consumers do dumb things. With the right marketing/fluff/features, I could see sports fans paying for a “dedicated, standalone streaming service, available anywhere, with all the latest clips, games, news, blah blah blah.”

And with regards to the NFL… you could almost see it due to the highly violent nature of the sport and the need to pay players exorbitant salaries for that risk. But now you get penalized for slapping the opposite team on their hiney…

I’m not advocating for increased risk in the NFL, just saying that now that the risk is much much much much lower, maybe people shouldn’t be paid “high risk” pay?

(am I the only one that feels this way?)

Of course, doesn’t speak well for American baseball, where risk is very low. And shouldn’t hockey players have the largest salaries? It’s all crazy.

It’s a good question, though I see a couple of situations where it would be worth it. SlingTv is limited to one device at a time, while an ESPN standalone service should support at least 3 and possibly be unlimited. So you could have multiple people watching it at once, or you might even have multiple games up at the same time (something you can do in Watch ESPN with a subscription).

I thought I heard that with your SlingTV login, you could access multiple streams of Watch ESPN at once. I haven’t ever tested it myself.

Still, you’re using an ESPN app.

I know there are plenty of people that sub to Sling solely for the ESPN access. Those people would probably jump at a $20/mo service and maybe even make the leap to $30/mo.

ESPN is one of the reasons I don’t subscribe to SlingTV. I don’t want to pay ~$8 for a channel I don’t watch. Choice of what to pay for is part of the reason I cut the cord. It is perfectly fine to offer a package with it in there for people who watch and enjoy it, but I wish they would offer a package for those that don’t.

I might pay $10/mo for ESPN during football season, maybe. No way in hell I would ever pay $20 - $30/mo just for that though.

1 Like

Yeah its an unfortunate waste. But Disney likely uses their other channels (Disney, A&E, History, Freeform (prev. ABCFam) as leverage to get ESPN in the base deal.

Ideally SlingTV would be $15 and the 3 ESPN channels would be a $5 add-on.

Definitely there are some who will pay $30 a month for ESPN, in the right circumstances. And we are one household that subscribes to SlingTV solely for ESPN (but only during football season). The question is how many people are willing to pay that much for just ESPN? If ESPN can be more profitable selling at a cheaper price to more people, then that will happen in the end. They will likely do a lot of experimenting and do research into this to try to figure out where the sweet spot is and prices may start out high when they still are making big bucks from cable bundles and want to discourage cord cutting and while they can afford to lose some of the cord cutters, but as more people go streaming or if cable ever un-bundles itself to compete, then the market forces will prevail in the end.

For me, ESPN = SEC football, basketball, and baseball. I almost never watch SportsCenter or any other conference besides the SEC. So I consider it valuable as a Vanderbilt fan.

I do wish I had a way to watch Predators and Braves games. Those are almost always on the FSN networks, and there is no streaming of those yet.

I was planning to get slingtv at $20, but that was because we get HGTV, Food, History and AMC too. For just ESPN, I would pay $10. I cannot see any scenario where people will pay more for a stand alone ESPN service than a HBO service. HBO has so much more to offer.

Did you read the rest of the thread? People already do this. I can’t count the number of times I have seen “I’ll be canceling sling after football season is over” posted on reddit and other forums.

1 Like

Yeah, I read it. Fair point. I guess I should have said, “most people” instead of just “people.” I’m pretty sure slingtv still has less than 400,000 subscribers. If you assume half of those people got it only for ESPN, I don’t think its a subscriber pool that Disney would be happy about.

Thats fair but also keep in mind the power of marketing. SlingTV isn’t exactly marketed very strongly.

I imagine a standalone ESPN service would get some heavy marketing from all avenue thats Disney can take advantage of. And the concept isn’t new whereas the idea of “streaming cable TV” is still a tough pill to swallow for many people.

1 Like