Starting this month, ESPN will begin selling cricket directly to subscribers without going through its traditional cable partners. The Worldwide Leader will offer access to the entire ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 through a dedicated streaming service at ESPNcricket2015.com. There will also be iOS and Android apps available for fans to watch on their various devices.
The service will begin on Tuesday, February 3 and be available to watch for $99.99. Matches will be available in both English and Hindi.
The ICC Cricket World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand between February 13 and March 28 with 14 nations taking part. Fans will be able watch all 49 matches live or later on demand.
This is significant as this marks the first time ESPN is offering a subscription without going through cable authentication or streaming it through ESPN3. ESPN is developing plans for an over the top subscription service for NBA games and while it was supposed to have one in place for MLS this season, the network will eventually have one in place for American soccer down the line.
This is all about developing new revenue sources for ESPN as it finds new ways to reach millennials who have cut the cord or not subscribing to cable at all. The cricket package comes after the new Sling TV service developed by Dish which offers ESPN and other cable channels to those who don’t a pay TV subscription.
Some providers like Dish, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable will offer the cricket package on pay per view, but it doesn’t appear that other companies will be on board, that ESPN wants to do this on its own.
While cricket is popular in the Australia, India, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world, it has a smaller following in the United States. ESPN is hoping that its service will be a model for its MLS and NBA offerings and other potential subscription services down the road.
Industry watchers will be monitoring the success or failure of the cricket service very closely.