attends ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

It appears that ESPN will be joining the CBS’s, HBO’s and Showtime’s in selling an over the top streaming service directly to consumers. However, unlike CBS and Showtime, this ESPN OTT service won’t the linear channel that is seen on WatchESPN. According to The Information, this service will not include its major sports packages like Monday Night Football or MLB.

Instead, The Information says what will be included will most likely offer “niche leagues” and perhaps some college sports. What exact niche leagues and sports will be offered isn’t known, however, one thing is for sure. ESPN will not put its linear channels on the service knowing that it would alienate its cable and satellite partners. But ESPN will continue to be part of “skinny bundles” like Sling TV which is offered by Dish and Verizon’s package.

ESPN hopes that it will be able to reach audiences that don’t subscribe to cable and satellite and also discover what events in this package will work and what won’t.

ESPN has been hurt by cord cutting and Disney CEO Robert Iger hinted last month that an OTT package might be in the works.

So if The Information is true, then this package (we’ll call it ESPN Lite) could be the offering that Iger was referring to when he discussed this with investors. So if this is the OTT streaming service offering niche leagues and perhaps college Olympic sports, then one would have to imagine the per month price to be lower than if the Worldwide Leader came out with a package that included its linear television feeds.

It’s all quite interesting and we’ll see when it comes to fruition. The price will be key and also how ESPN markets this to distinguish it from other streaming services.

[The Information (subscription required)]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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