ESPN+ — the $5-a-month streaming add-on from the eponymous sports network — now has 2 million subscribers. That's an impressive number unto itself, if only because the service isn't even a year old, and it jumped from 1 million to 2 million subs in about 5 months' time.
That, in a word, is huge. It's huge for ESPN+, and its huge for its parent company, Disney.
"We're thrilled with the continued growth of ESPN+," Disney CEO Bob Iger said in the company's Q1 2019 earnings call. "[It] speaks to the enduring power of live sports."
Fair enough. But live sports online can be hard. YouTube TV has struggled at times during major events. Roku had problems with CBS during Super Bowl LIII. Video isn't easy.
But ESPN+ has made it look easy.
That starts it with the app experience itself. Building ESPN+ into the existing ESPN application removes one of the biggest barriers to entry — there's nothing else for folks to download. And payment options are pretty seamless, too, using existing platform mechanisms.
In other words, it's literally just a couple taps away, alongside scores and other video options.
ESPN+ also benefits from not being treated as a second-class service. Sure, the sports and games being featured often are of the sort that would otherwise be relegated to regional status. But that's precisely what makes ESPN+ so brilliant. You don't have to want to watch everything, but everyone should be able to find something on every day.
And all of that would be moot if the price didn't make sense. $4.99 is a cup of (overpriced) coffee. It's a paltry sum for a service that can have double-digit games a day. Not monthly, not a one-off pay-per-view event. You pay $5 a month for a feast of sports.
In CEO-speak? "The price-to-value relationship is very strong," Iger said.
He's not wrong. And now, some 2 million sports fans agree.
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