Much of ESPN’s recent strategy around rights has involved ESPN+, with deals with the NHL, Wimbledon, the Big West and more all having a substantial ESPN+ component. Now, they’re raising the monthly price for that service to $6.99 a month, a jump from the $5.99 they raised it to last August. However, the price of the Disney bundle (including Disney+ and ad-supported Hulu for $13.99 a month, or $19.99 a month for Hulu with no ads) isn’t changing, so this particular jump only affects those who don’t have the bundle. Here’s more on that from Brian Steinberg at Variety:
Starting on Aug. 13, the price of an ESPN Plus subscription will rise to $6.99 a month and $69.99 a year, up from $5.99 a month and $59.99 per year. Disney is informing subscribers of the news on Monday. Prices for the UFC pay-per-view matches featured on the service remain unchanged, as does the price for getting a bundle of all of Disney’s U.S. services, which includes Hulu and Disney Plus. The group subscription costs $13.99 per month, 30% less than the cost of individual subscriptions to all three services.
The price hike comes after ESPN unveiled a passel of sports rights deals that call for significant amounts of new and archival content to makes its way to the company’s streaming outlet. A new deal with the National Hockey League will make 75 games available via ESPN Plus exclusively. And a pact between ESPN and the All-England Lawn Tennis Club for rights to the iconic Wimbledon tournament calls for ESPN Plus to live-stream activity all courts during the event and to be the only outlet to feature full replays for all matches. The Club is also making available archival material such as films, classic matches, highlight shows and press conferences. ESPN Plus is also slated to become a showcase for LaLiga soccer exclusively after August and PGA Tour Live starting next season.
As Steinberg notes, Disney’s most recent ESPN+ subscriber number announcement was 13.8 million users in April. There have been some big things since then, though, including their wide showing of this summer’s Euro 2020 on that service (an alternate quad-box view for most matches, but the regular feed for the semifinals and final). And there’s more to come, especially with their new NHL deal (including 75 exclusive games each year for ESPN+ and Hulu) starting this fall. So we’ll see how the ESPN+ subscriber numbers do following both a price increase and a rights expansion. This move is also interesting as yet another way to push people towards that Disney bundle, which has found a lot of success (and is bolstering the ESPN+ numbers).