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ESPN+ passes 2 million subscribers in under a year

ESPN+ passes 2 million subscribers in under a year


Disney’s sports streaming service is growing fast — thanks in part to UFC content

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UFC Fight Night Cejudo v Dillashaw
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

ESPN+, Disney’s standalone premium subscription service for sports fans, now has over 2 million subscribers. Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the latest growth stat during his company’s quarterly earnings call this afternoon.

ESPN+ was launched back in April for $4.99 per month or $49.99 for an annual membership. The service, which is powered by Disney’s BAMTech division, offers “hundreds of MLB, NHL and MLS games, Grand Slam tennis, Top Rank boxing, PGA Tour golf, college sports, international rugby, cricket, the full library of ESPN Films including 30 for 30, and more.” It also touts original content like Detail with Peyton Manning and LeBron James’ More Than An Athlete. In its first five months, the service gained over 1 million subscribers. ESPN+ now has its own dedicated tab within the main ESPN mobile app.

Last month, ESPN+ streamed its debut episode of UFC Fight Night from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, officially kicking off a multi-year partnership that the MMA organization and Disney / ESPN announced last May. The addition of UFC didn’t come cheap at $1.5 billion, but it has already been a significant boost for ESPN+: the service added 568,000 new subscribers on the Friday and Saturday leading into the card. The next UFC Fight Night is scheduled for February 23rd. In all, ESPN+ will stream over 1,425 live events this month, the company said yesterday.

ESPN+ doesn’t include the linear ESPN cable channel or the signature shows of that network; it’s meant to complement the traditional ESPN experience. Even without SportsCenter, Disney’s first direct-to-consumer streaming service seems to be building strong momentum.

During Tuesday’s call, Iger again hinted at a potential bundling of ESPN+ and the upcoming Disney+ service set to launch later this year, saying that consumers might be able to get both services together at a discounted rate. “Ultimately, our goal would be to use the same tech platform to make it easier for people to sign up to all three should they want to use the same credit card, same username, same password, etc,” he said. Hulu could also potentially factor into that equation once Disney’s Fox deal closes and the company gains majority ownership.