Disney to Launch Its Own ESPN Streaming Service

It appears consumers will be able to pay for ESPN's content without paying for a cable package. 
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Disney will launch its own ESPN streaming service beginning in 2018, the media company announced in an August earnings call

The service, which will be called ESPN Plus, will debut in the spring. 

"The product will be accessible through a new and fully redesigned ESPN app, which will allow users to access sports scores and highlights, stream our channels on an authenticated basis and subscribe to ESPN+ for additional sports coverage, including thousands of live sporting events," Iger said in November. "This one app [will offer] sports fans far more than they can get on any other app, website or channel."

Currently, the lone way to access ESPN's content online is through its Watch ESPN platform, which requires a TV provider login. Disney CEO Bob Iger said in the Aguust conference call that he envisions a more customizable user experience where consumers can select specific games, packages and even parts of games they want to purchase. 

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It's still unclear exactly what content will be offered on the platform. 

ESPN has a $1.9 billion contract with the NFL that runs through 2021. As part of the deal, ESPN broadcasts Monday Night Football, one playoff game and has access to wide-ranging video content including game highlights. 

In 2014, ESPN extended its deal with the NBA, which now runs through the 2024-25 season. ESPN broadcasts NBA games throughout the season and, combined with fellow Disney subsidiary ABC, broadcasts up to 44 playoff games. ABC remains the lone broadcaster of the NBA Finals.

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Disney announced that it had acquired a controlling share in BAM Tech for $1.58 billion, and BAMTech's technology will power the service. BAMTech was spun off from MLB Advanced Media in 2015, and Disney bought a 33% share in 2016. 

Disney also announced on the August call that it will pull its movies from Netflix and launch its own direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect new details about ESPN Plus, including the name.