The advent of several new over-the-top subscription sports services could deliver a body blow to the traditional cable bundle.
One of most appealing value propositions of a cable or satellite TV package has been the ability to watch high-profile, live sports programming delivered by national and regional cable sports networks that can’t be seen elsewhere without subscribing to an expensive out-of-market pro sports streaming package.
But ESPN, looking to stem the tide of subscription and revenue losses from cord-cutters, is teeing up live sports content as part of a new subscription-based, multisport service set to launch in 2018. The ad-supported service, to be accessed through an enhanced version of the current WatchESPN app, will offer about 10,000 live regional, national and international games and events per year.
ESPN’s streaming service is a bit of a risk for the 24-hour sports network — it has yet to discuss the OTT service with its current distributors, who aren’t likely to be enthused by its prospects when they’re paying more than $7 a month per subscriber for ESPN’s linear channels. Subscriber losses, though, leave the programmer little choice but to seek new revenue wherever and however possible.
CBS also plans to jump into the OTT ring, hatching plans to model a new, yet-to-be named SVOD sports service based on its national news service CBSN. The company said it has an online sports group in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that it will use for the venture, which is expected to offer live sports programming.
For fight fans, CBS is launching an OTT product specifically for Showtime’s highly anticipated Aug. 26 Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor payper-view boxing match. The offer marks the first time Showtime will make a boxing event available directly to consumers on its ShowtimePPV.com website as well as via the Showtime PPV app, for a robust $99.99. ESPN and CBS will join the four major pro sports leagues, NBC Sports Group, WWE, UFC and other services on the SVOD streaming field, adding even more content for cord-cutters looking to access marquee live sports programming.
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
The smarter way to stay on top of the multichannel video marketplace. Sign up below.
Thank you for signing up to Multichannel News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.