ESPN might use live-streaming to sell sports a la carte, better exploit rights deals, Iger says


Fresh off its $1 billion investment into streaming shop BAMTech, ESPN is considering a range of configurations for its upcoming OTT platform, including the possibility of selling full season subscriptions for specific sports. 

The plans, nebulous as they are, were outlined Wednesday by Disney CEO Bob Iger at the Goldman Sachs Communicopa conference in New York.

Disney announced that it will launch a live-streaming platform last month when it announced its investment in BAMTech, the streaming tech shop spun off from Major League Baseball Advanced Media. 

So far, all Disney has said is that the OTT ESPN will be “complementary” to the linear ESPN channel. Iger sees the outlet as possibly offering a way for ESPN to better monetize billions of dollars it has in rights deals with sports leagues including the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the NCAA, just to name a few.

ESPN, he said, is sitting on a “treasure trove of rights that for 99 percent of sports it isn’t exploiting on new platforms,” Iger said. “This is a monetization goldmine.”

One such strategy would be to charge viewers for access to specific sports on a per-season basis, or even a date range — this is a concept being deployed by 21st Century Fox-backed Sky in the UK with Premiere League soccer rights, Iger said. 

“One of the things that we have been talking about is that it shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all,” Iger said. “We think where the market could be going in terms of some of these sports is being able to buy it very, very selectively, a specific sport, maybe even for a specific season or a specific date or a specific weekend.”

For more:
- read this Seeking Alpha transcript
- read this New York Post story
- read this Multichannel News story

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