While Disney does have its own sports streaming service, ESPN+, it is a slimmed-down version that doesn’t offer all the same live sports coverage that the traditional linear television cable networks offer. And as consumers have been slowly dropping their cable bundles for streaming, Disney knows eventually, it will need to offer a full replacement for the ESPN networks, or else, ESPN will continue to lose ground to Apple and Comcast in the sports division.
Last month, Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke on CNBC in a lengthy interview following his contract extension until 2026, where he revealed that while he wasn’t looking to sell ESPN, but was looking for some new strategic partners that could either help them with distribution or content. Bob even revealed that he’s had some conversations with some potential partners, but didn’t want to elaborate.
Since that initial bombshell, it was revealed that Disney had been speaking with many of the major sporting leagues in the United States, including the NFL, NHL and NBA, about potentially coming on board as a partner for ESPN. There had even been talks of Disney talking with Apple about coming on board as a partner since there is a history of collaboration between the two companies with the creation of Pixar. There have also been reports that Disney has also spoken to Verizon about a deal between the two over ESPN.
According to Information, Disney has been in early talks with Amazon about developing a full direct-to-consumer streaming service for ESPN, with Amazon taking a minority stake in ESPN.
Apparently, Disney and ESPN are still researching and planning the move to make ESPN a full streaming service, including working out a price, since it’s going to be much more expensive than ESPN+ currently is. Many are expecting the full ESPN streaming platform to cost between $20 and $35 a month since sporting rights are very expensive and many fans might only be interested in one particular sport, so when a season ends, are likely to unsubscribe.
If Disney and Amazon were to team together for a new ESPN streaming service, it would allow Disney to have access to Amazon’s vast network, which is spread around the world, as especially with live sports, a high-speed internet connection is vital. A partnership between the two, would also likely give ESPN a huge advantage to reach as many homes as possible through the Amazon Prime streaming platform, in addition, it would be likely the new sports platform would also be available inside Disney+, similar to how ESPN+ works now with Hulu.
Disney would also benefit from a huge cash injection from a partial sale to Amazon, which it could use to pay off Comcast for its 33% in Hulu and other debt it acquired after purchasing 20th Century Fox.
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Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.