ESPN Takes a Baby Step Outside the Bundle

Walt Disney’s ESPN sports network plans to unveil a package of live programming it will offer directly to consumers on the Web, said a person with knowledge of the plans. The move is a baby step towards ESPN becoming a direct-to-consumer service.

ESPN’s new offering won’t include high-value content like professional football or basketball, but rather more niche leagues and possibly some types of college sports, the person said. ESPN has offered some content directly before, for a specific event like the Cricket World Cup in 2015.

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There’s still some resistance in the traditional media industry to embracing a future where content is offered directly to consumers. But people are talking about it more than in years’ past, and there’s no question which path is the future. The question is how long will it take.

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Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale
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By going direct, ESPN can capture people who aren’t subscribing to pay TV and can learn about what will work and what won’t.