Until now, the transmission services focused on offering the best shows and films in which they could buy their own gloves, even creating their own to win the next generation of cord and cord cutters.
This line of thinking has brought us shows like House of Cards and Stranger Things on Netflix, The Man in the High Castle and Transparent on Amazon and The Handmaid & # 39; s Tale on Hulu. These shows are undeniably great in their execution, however, they will not persuade someone who loves sports to give up their cable package.
For that crowd, ESPN has partnered with a company called BAMTech to bring video in real time to the hundreds of thousands of ride-or-die sports fans.
The service is called ESPN + and is completely new by 2018.
What is ESPN + and what does it offer?
ESPN + is an ESPN streaming service package. The package brings together live events, on-demand content and original programming that is not found on any other ESPN network, and places them together with the free content of the main ESPN service.
It's important to note that, while it's independent in terms of content from anything else on ESPN, it shares many of the same attributes with the content it's used to seeing. Namely, it is highly produced sports content that focuses on the biggest leagues, players and teams in the NHL, MLB, MLS, NFL and NBA. Subscribe to it, and you'll often float between different leagues, selecting teams to follow and watching the highlights of your last game or predictions about what's going to happen to them next.
The best equivalent we can think of for ESPN + is YouTube Red: YouTube's supplementary streaming service that offers you additional shows, behind-the-scenes content and, most importantly, an ad-free environment to watch the content you already love. While ESPN + may not offer exactly the same content that you liked on standard ESPN, it offers you much more of the same type of content.
ESPN + is also similar to YouTube Red in terms of price: you will only pay around $ 5 per month for ESPN + or you will subscribe to 12 months of service for $ 49.99.
So, how much does that $ 5 monthly entry fee cost you?
With ESPN + you & # 39; You can watch all of the out-of-market MLS games, along with an NBA game and an NHL game per day during their respective seasons. In addition to the NBA and NHL games, you can also watch live sporting events such as the PGA Tour, three of the major Grand Slams and the best boxing matches, as well as some international sports.
During our first day with the service, we were able to watch an English League soccer game between Bradford City and Shrewsbury Town as it happened, then switch to the 30-by-30 documentary "Four Falls of Buffalo." Later that night we saw that there was a Major League game between the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres that we could catch, and many MLS games over the weekend.
How do I see ESPN +?
Taking everything into account, ESPN + is quite easy to tune into. That's because ESPN + is based on ESPN's ubiquitous robustness in PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Specifically, you can tune into ESPN + in your web browser by going to plus.espn.com and signing up for the service.
If you're more of a mobile sports observer, download the ESPN app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and sign up for the service there. Or, if you like the traditional feel of sitting on the couch to watch the game, ESPN + will be available from its launch on Apple TV, Chromecast and the Amazon Fire TV platform.
There is no price difference between the platforms and an account can be transferred to the other platforms simply by logging in, which is very convenient. Speaking of convenience, because ESPN + is related to your existing ESPN account, you can use the same login information.
At this time, the two biggest problems of ESPN + are that up until now it's MIA on Roku, one of the largest video streaming platforms on the planet at this time – and your web player may be a bit defective at times. (We experienced all sorts of buffering and replay issues before we gave up completely and switched to the mobile app exclusively.) None of these are necessarily decisive, but they certainly are not helping the service earn points in our book either.
One last thing that is worth noting here, despite its very obvious nature, is that you will need Internet access to watch ESPN +, that is, even if you decide to cut the cable, you still have to pay for your cable company (or ISP) for internet access. If you are reading this website at this time, it is something you already have to pay for, so do not completely cut off your cable provider if you decide to cut the old cable TV cable.
How ESP ESP ESP? ESPN2 ESPN2, ESPN3, etc …
ESPN tries to be very careful with ESPN +. The last thing the media giant wants to do is cannibalize their own business or, worse, ruin their position with the cable companies they depend on to bring their service at a reasonable price.
To that end, there's not much crossing between the things you'd find on ESPN, namely, the comments of sports like Sports Center and Around the Horn, and the things you'd find on ESPN +. At this time, that's a lot of very specific content for MLB, NHL and MLS fans. You get one game per day for any of the two previous leagues, and a full lineup of MLS games arrives on Saturday, but usually no more than one game or two at a time.
In addition to live content, the other component to consider with ESPN + is its library of excellent ESPN documentaries and exclusive ESPN + shows. This would include the excellent 30 of 30 ESPN documents and new shows like Detail with presenter Kobe Bryant, Draft Academy, ESPN FC, In the Crease and more. These are excellent if you are between games and you are looking for something inspiring or captivating to pass the time.
All this being said, if you are not a cable subscriber and the only service you buy is ESPN +, you will miss a good amount of programming: while we were busy watching the English League match, ESPN was playing Perdón La Interrupción ; ESPN2 had NFL Live and ESPN3 had a series of upcoming boxing matches.
Without cable, you can not tune to any of them, and because the services are so closely linked, you are constantly reminded of all the content you can not see.
Maybe one day you can pay for a service to get everything on ESPN: sports talk shows, live events, MLB.tv content and the NFL Network and ESPN documents, all in one place, but for now that It is simply not possible.
Should I subscribe to ESPN +?
Yes. But only because there is a free 30-day trial for new subscribers.
Take advantage of the free offer and you can see for yourself what games and leagues you would be interested in tuning to watch or if any of the documentaries or new television programs deserve a subscription fee of $ 5 per month.
Once the free trial runs out, however, you will encounter a difficult decision: is it worth paying for this independent service? And is it really independent?
For us, at this moment, the answer is not in both accounts.
Having access to a series of MLS games and one or two games of the NHL and the MLB is wonderful and is more than enough to complete a day of programming. Add 30 of 30 documents and you will surely have a week full of action with the service.
But once you've reviewed the documentaries, watched one or two episodes of the new shows and reached the end of the MLB or NHL season, well, there will not be much content worth seeing.
But the biggest point of sale for ESPN + is that it's cheap and its price of $ 5 per month is unlikely to break the bank for any of its subscribers.
Does that mean it's worth signing up for a $ 500 to 10-year contract? No. But this rookie streaming service has a lot of potential.