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ESPN’s stand-alone streaming service will be added to Disney+ in 2025

Samantha Masunaga – Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Walt Disney Co. is betting big on ESPN as the Burbank entertainment company bolsters its streaming options and charts its future.

The company said Wednesday that its planned stand-alone ESPN streaming service — featuring content including the sports cable powerhouse’s flagship channel — will be available on Disney+ for bundle subscribers. The plan is similar to how Disney integrated Hulu content onto the Disney+ platform last week for subscribers of both services. (The two services are still available as stand-alone apps.)

Disney reiterated that it will make the “full suite” of ESPN channels available to customers as a stand-alone service in the fall of 2025. The platform will allow viewers to stream live games and studio shows, as well as take part in an “immersive, customizable sports experience” that will include fantasy sports, betting, e-commerce and more, company Chief Executive Bob Iger said during Disney’s shareholder meeting.

“ESPN continues to deliver meaningfully for the company,” Iger said.

He also noted the high viewership on ESPN for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament game between Iowa and LSU, which drew in more than 12 million viewers, a figure Iger said ranked above all but one men’s NCAA tournament game, all but one NBA Finals game and every World Series game in the most recent MLB postseason.

“That’s just a tremendous, tremendous affirmation that not only women’s sports arrived, but their potential is so tremendous,” Iger said. “I’ve actually never been more bullish about women’s sports.”

The moves in streaming come as Disney tries to shore up its streaming business by reducing viewer churn and increasing engagement. Disney has lost billions on its direct-to-consumer business as it tries to compete with Netflix, but Iger reiterated Wednesday that the company is “poised to reach profitability” in its combined streaming business by the end of this fiscal year, while delivering “significant sustained growth in the future.”

Also during the meeting, Disney announced that the company’s full suite of board nominees had won a closely watched shareholder vote, with dissident billionaire shareholder Nelson Peltz failing in his proxy contest with the company.

©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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