Published on November 10th, 2017 | by Brad Gibson0
Media giant hints at Disney/ESPN streaming channels
ESPN’s soon-to-launch streaming service will be called ESPN Plus and a Disney entertainment service in the latter part of 2019 will be priced lower than Netflix, according to Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger.
During a fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday, Iger hinted at certain details of the two services, with the ESPN channel launching in the Spring of 2018.
Iger called the two ventures “our highest priority this year” and said the Disney channel – which has yet to be officially named – will cost “substantially less than Netflix,” because it will have less content, at least initially. He said that more pricing details for the services will be coming after the first of the year.
Currently, Netflix plans start at $7.99 per month and jump to $10.99 for HD and $13.99 for Ultra HD plans.
“Our goal here is to be a viable player in the direct-to-consumer space, space that we all know is a very, very compelling space to be in,” said Iger.
Disney plans an aggressive marketing campaign for the channel by pushing the service to its Disney-branded credit card holders, annual Disney park pass holders, members of D23, owners of Disney vacation club units and frequent visitors to the six Disney parks.
Iger said the service will use Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars content but that everything has to adhere to Disney’s G-rated standards and filtering features will be available for parents letting their kids use the service.
“We’re also planning to produce a number of original series for the new service,” he commented. “We’re already developing a Star Wars live-action series, a series based on our popular Pixar Monsters franchise, a High School Musical series and a series for Marvel television along with a rich array of other content including new movies from our Disney Channel creative team as well as a variety of short-form films and features from across our company.”
Iger said Disney is considering licensing third-party content for the service, “provided the product fits with the Disney brand.” He said ABC Productions could end up creating content for the Disney-branded service.
Disney doesn’t plan on selling ads for the streaming service, but Iger commented he wouldn’t rule out sponsorships.
ESPN Plus…an app within an app
Iger said ESPN Plus will be somewhat like two apps in one….live streaming content through various existing ESPN channels (subscription through a cable, satellite or streaming provider required) and additional content the customer can pay extra for.
“This one app experience will be a one of a kind product, offering sports fans far more than they can get on any other app, website, or channel and immediately propelling ESPN in the new direction,” he said.
He said the new service will be ad-supported and will enable users to view highlights, stream ESPN programming, and subscribe to thousands of additional live sporting events.
Iger gave no details on possible pricing for subscriptions to ESPN sports content. It isn’t clear if the paid direct-to-consumer programming will be available to all consumers, or only people who are already authenticated to watch ESPN via their existing cable, satellite or streaming subscription.
With the Walt Disney Company’s past history of releasing Apple TV apps first and being the first to add new features, it is highly likely both services will be available on Apple TV from the outset.