Signaling what might very well become a broader trend for archival programming on pay-TV platforms, ESPN Classic has transitioned from a linear to on-demand channel on Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH).
More than 600 hours of archival sports programming will now be available for on-demand viewing on Dish set-tops, with multiscreen access becoming available via Watch ESPN sometime in 2015.
The move stems from the broad-reaching program licensing deal ESPN's parent company, Disney, struck with Dish earlier this year. ESPN plans to transition the channel from linear to on-demand on other pay-TV platforms, but has not set a timetable for that to occur.
ESPN Classic was downgraded to sports tiers five years ago, with Disney moving ESPNU up to the main tier. Classic currently touts 27 million subscribers, but had close to 67 million when it was downgraded.
"As fans continue to evolve the way they consume content, making ESPN Classic an on-demand offering is the logical next step," said David Preschlack, executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks. "It is a powerful consumer proposition and a great example of how we are collaborating with our partners to free up bandwidth, allowing them to better serve customers."
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