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ESPN sets launch date for new OTT service

US sports broadcaster ESPN has said that its new direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service, ESPN+, will launch on April 12.

Priced at $4.99 (€4) per month, ESPN+ will be an integrated part of a completely redesigned and reimagined ESPN App, along with being available through ESPN.com.

Content available through ESPN+ will be based on the four key pillars of live events, original shows and films, exclusive studio programs and an extensive on-demand library.

Among the live content will be more than 180 games per season from both Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. A year-round boxing schedule will comprise events from the multi-platform Top Rank Boxing on ESPN boxing agreement and a selection of exclusive main event fights beginning with the April 21 Amir Khan vs. Phil Lo Greco bout in Liverpool, England.

At launch, ESPN+ will include exclusive access for subscribers to Major League Soccer’s entire MLS Live out-of-market schedule, featuring more than 250 games. Additionally, ESPN+ will be the exclusive local-market home for the Chicago Fire, bringing 27 matches to fans in Chicago.

College sports content will include thousands of games and events across multiple sports and nearly two dozen conferences. More than 100 days of coverage from PGA Tour golf events will be showcased, along with hundreds of matches from tennis grand slams the US Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open.

Rugby union fans will be offered matches from Sanzaar competitions such as Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, the World Rugby Sevens series, and 18 regular-season matches in the inaugural season of Major League Rugby, the new American professional league. Meanwhile, cricket fans across the US will get matches across Test, one-day international and Twenty20 formats from New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Ireland.

ESPN+ is the first direct-to-consumer service offering from Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, the multiplatform media, technology and distribution organisation created by Disney’s Media Networks and Studio Entertainment groups.

A Disney-branded direct-to-consumer service, offering subscription-video-on-demand viewing of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm movies along with a host of exclusive content, will launch in late 2019. Both streaming services are powered by BAMTECH, a unit of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.

Kevin Mayer, chairman of direct-to-consumer and international at ESPN’s parent company Walt Disney, said: “The launch of ESPN+ marks the beginning of an exciting new era of innovation for our media businesses – one defined by an increasingly direct and personal relationship with consumers.

"This new product reflects our direct-to-consumer strategy focused on combining our beloved brands with our proprietary, industry-leading technology to give users unparalleled access to our world-class content.”

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