Disney’s Direct-To-Consumer & International is set to release it’s newest streaming platform, Disney+, later this year and while we haven’t seen anything on the app’s functionality, the company has been busy working on improving the ESPN+ app.
The main reason for these changes are to improve the consumer experience by serving customized content, more user-friendly navigation, offline viewing and more platforms on which fans can access programming.
“One of the most important focuses for ESPN+ has been innovating the experience for fans and making it easier for them to discover, subscribe and watch the great content,” says Michael Paull, president, Disney Streaming Services. “With more than a million subscribers and growing, our recent updates bring fans a more personalized experience with advanced content recommendations and make the service more accessible with offline viewing in the mobile app and availability on new devices, including Samsung and Oculus.”
“Our focus is always on creating user experiences that are smart, personal, intuitive and scalable,” says Jarrod Schwarz, vice president, Product and Design, DTCI. “The ESPN app is the digital home of sports, and ESPN+ is already the leader in direct-to-consumer sports streaming. But for us, there is a responsibility never to stop improving them. We aim to drive the industry forward, evolve with user expectations and ensure our products are where sports fans expect them to be.”
Here are some further details on the improvements:
Personalized Content Recommendation
ESPN+ offers sports fans deeper access to the content they love with thousands of live events and on-demand programs, and the experience has been upgraded with personalized recommendations unique to each subscriber.
Initially, ESPN+ content recommendations highlight video-on-demand programming—helping fans discover more of the catalog of original, studio and library content available. Recommendations will continuously be refined and improved and will soon expand to live and upcoming events, helping ensure fans never miss the events and shows that they want to see.
New ESPN+ Dedicated Nav Icon, Offline Viewing, UFC FightCenter and More on ESPN Mobile App
The ESPN app on iOS and Android has been updated with new features and navigation for fans, including:
- Dedicated ESPN+ Navigation Icon: Under a new E+ icon within the app’s main navigation, fans get easy, direct access to ESPN+ programming in a dedicated home, which lets them access all the exclusive video and premium news and analysis content—never more than one touch away.
- Offline Viewing: Subscribers to ESPN+ can now watch a number of their favorite ESPN+ original shows, series and documentaries wherever they are, connected or not. With offline viewing, ESPN+ subscribers can take programming such as Detail with Kobe Bryant, Quest for The Stanley Cup, NBA: Year One and 30 for 30 documentaries with them.
- More Tab: A new “More” tab in the main navigation gives fans a one-stop menu for their favorite teams and sports, ESPN Audio (podcasts and radio streaming) and sports-specific sections.
- Podcast Personalization: Fans can now access favorite ESPN podcasts directly from their home screen feed, with an integrated “My Podcasts” carousel. Fans can favorite any of the dozens of popular ESPN pods that reach millions of listeners every month.
While some of these improvements are more suited to ESPN+, I fully expect some of these functions being part of their upcoming Disney+ app, though they might not launch with them and some could be added later. With products such as ESPN+ and DisneyLife, the team behind Disney+ do have much more experience then a few years ago, so I hope options like offline viewing are available straight away.
Personalized recommendations is another feature that could really help viewers find content they are interested in, especially since Netflix does this. With different profiles, this makes the experience much more personal, especially for adults, since they might not be interested in the latest episode of Muppet Babies from Disney Junior.
But I also hope there are ways of just browsing without personalization options, since I wouldn’t want to miss something since it’s got nothing in common with my viewing history.
Other functions such as Podcast Personalization might not fit Disney+, since there aren’t too many official Disney podcasts, though there are some official Marvel Podcasts, which could be a interesting addition to Disney+. But I suspect Disney+ will focus on video content.
Are you hoping to see any of these ESPN+ features in Disney+?