The Walt Disney Company and ESPN made an announcement Tuesday that could shake up how fans watch sports for years to come.
In “early 2018,” Disney will launch an ESPN-branded live streaming platform that fans will be able to purchase outside of their cable subscription, according to a press release from The Walt Disney Company.
The service will have live sports from MLB, the NHL, the MLS, Grand Slam tennis and college athletics. Individual sports packages will also be available for purchase, per the release.
Fans who pay for ESPN through their cable subscription will still have access to the new service through the ESPN App.
As part of the announcement, Disney also says they have purchased an additional 42 percent of BAMTech for $1.58 billion. Disney now owns 75 percent of the company that specializes in direct-to-consumer streaming.
“The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market,” The Walt Disney Company CEO Robert A. Iger, Chairman said in a press release. “This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the Company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands.”
In addition to the sports service, Disney announced it will be pulling its movies from Netflix and will launch a Disney-branded streaming service for movies and other content in 2019.