It isn’t nearly as significant as the $15/month price hike that YouTube TV is getting, but the monthly cost of ESPN+ will reportedly be increasing.
According to The Verge, citing internal documentation, the subscription cost of ESPN+ will increase to $5.99 per month in August, while a yearly subscription will remain $49.99. Existing monthly subscribers will reportedly be grandfathered in to the old rate for a full year.
The price increase puts ESPN+ at the same cost as the lowest tiered Hulu package and a dollar lower than Disney+ ($6.99/month or $69.99/year).
Also of note from The Verge’s article is that the Hulu/ESPN+/Disney+ bundle will remain $12.99/month.
In May, Disney touted 7.9 million subscribers for ESPN+ at the end of March, a substantial increase on the 2.2 million subs the service had a year earlier (prior to the launch of Disney+ and the creation of the bundle).
On one hand, this seems like an odd time for a price increase, given that the amount of live sports on the docket isn’t overwhelming right now. But in my opinion, this is more of a move to position ESPN+ for the fall, when the service’s main content providers (college sports, European soccer) will theoretically be ramping up. Also, ESPN+ will host the Bundesliga in 2020-21 for the first time and the network is paying a reported $30 million per year for the rights to the top German league, meaning that any way to recoup that rights fee will be welcomed (even if, when taken the grandfathering into account, ESPN+ won’t start bringing in the extra money from existing subscribers until the fall of 2021).
Overall, I’m not all that bothered by an increase of one dollar a month, especially given this is the first ESPN+ price increase since its launch over two years ago. But if we see an increase in the yearly cost, or the bundle cost, before the end of the year, then I think we’re going to see some fans begin to get more annoyed.