Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed today that the company’s new ESPN streaming service, called ESPN Plus, will launch later this spring and cost $4.99 per month. The news, announced as part of Disney’s quarterly earnings release, is the first time the company has put a concrete price on the service, which was announced back in August as Disney’s first direct-to-consumer streaming service.
According to Iger, ESPN Plus will be an add-on included within the redesigned ESPN app, and not a standalone service with its own mobile and smart TV software. Users who pay the $4.99 monthly subscription fee will gain access to thousands of live sporting events “not available” on current channels, Iger adds. The service is designed to help ESPN forestall the negative effects of subscriber drop-off, as more and more viewers choose over-the-top streaming services over traditional sports and cable packages. Disney purchased a majority stake in Major League Baseball’s streaming spinoff BAMTech last summer in order to build and maintain the service and all future streaming endeavors.
Unfortunately, ESPN Plus will not contain access to SportsCenter or to live ESPN channels, as Iger says Disney will not make ESPN Plus available unless you’re a “traditional or non-traditional” subscriber of standard ESPN. ESPN Plus will precede the launch of Disney’s broader, straight-to-consumer streaming service designed for its animated films and Marvel and Star Wars properties. Disney intends to launch that service in 2019 in conjunction with Toy Story 4 and the sequel to Frozen, and the company has moved to end its licensing deal with Netflix as a result.