No, the world hasn’t ended, but hell apparently, has frozen over. ESPN is going over the top, direct to consumers, something the pundits said would never happen.
Add the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) to the lineup of sports college athletic conferences with their own networks. The ACC announced it signed a 20-year agreement with the sportscaster that will kick off on the linear side by August of 2019.
ESPN and Verizon have settled the 2015 breech of contract suit the sportscaster filed against Verizon after the telco moved it off the FiOS-TV service basic skinny bundle that was created in an effort to lure Millennials and other cord nevers and cutters to the operator.
It might be a little early to hold your breath for this one, but ESPN is considering its streaming options. John Skipper, chief of the sports network, confirmed published reports that it’s exploring deals with Amazon and Apple, among others, but said ESPN won't be offered as a standalone product.
Could the value of live sports be overrated? No doubt, according to BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield who today in a blog post said the firm believes ESPN has laid out far too much cash for rights to televise major sporting events, especially as the cable bundle begins to come undone and consumers look online for their entertainment.
ESPN is streaming all of its programming, including that from ESPN Extra, through its TV Everywhere product, ESPN Play.
The network told an audience at its Upfront 2016 presentation in Buenos Aires, that subscribers would be able to watch content on any connected device.
Previously, only ESPN 3 was available that way.
More viewers are switching to content not supported by advertising, creating more problems for traditional content companies as well as for the segment of the entertainment industry – specifically broadcasters – that rely heavily on ad revenues.
“Technology is the most disruptive force that so-called traditional media is facing,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC’ Squawk Box today. That technology – and the consumer’s appetite for a la carte programming – “inevitably” will lead Disney to offer ESPN direct to consumer… but not immediately.
"If we end up seeing more erosion in the so-called multichannel [cable and satellite TV] bundle, quality will win out," he said.
Cablevision is betting its new addressable advertising product– the Total Audience Application -- that it announced two weeks ago would be a hit with advertisers and it is… at least for one very big name.
In this week's Videomind podcast, "Hack and Flack" discuss the fizzing out of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, TWC's apparent denial of an urgency around millennial-focused OTT services, and the mounting tensions between networks and operators as exemplified by ESPN suing Verizon.
ESPN may have dropped a breech of contract lawsuit on Verizon after the telco launched its “Custom TV” skinny bundle that moved the sportsnet off the basic tier, but not every sports network is looking askance at the new $55 a month deal.
Disney has decided to play hardball with Verizon for offering its ESPN cable channel as an add-on to its new Custom TV FiOS package rather than as part of its basic tier. This morning ESPN filed a lawsuit alleging breech of contract.