The future is now as ESPN has launched their ESPN+ service, a subscription-based platform that sports fans can access for a small monthly fee that features exclusive games and events as well as a significant library of Bristol-branded content.

So far, the reviews are pretty positive, but it’s a significant step into a bit of an unknown arena for ESPN. For so long, ESPN has been dependent upon the straight-forward revenue stream of cable and satellite bills that came from traditional television viewers. In recent years, ESPN has added ESPN3 and WatchESPN as services that had a large array of eclectic content at no additional cost to those subscribers. But with this stand-alone service, ESPN will find out how much appetite there is for the subscription model in sports and just how much fans are willing to pay for it.

So far, the impressions of the new ESPN+ are fairly positive, at least from a user friendly standpoint. And it’s going to be hugely important for ESPN+ to make a positive first impression on consumers. They’ll have the opportunity to do so with Roku as the streaming platform has come to an agreement to make ESPN+ available through its service.

Via Business Wire:

Roku, Inc. (Nasdaq: ROKU) today announced the availability of ESPN+ through the new ESPN channel on the Roku® platform, allowing Roku player and Roku TV users to access thousands of additional live events, on-demand content and original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks. ESPN+ is the first-ever multi-sport, direct-to-consumer premium subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International group, in partnership with ESPN.

Available within the newly updated ESPN channel, ESPN+ brings hundreds of MLB, NHL and MLS games, Grand Slam tennis, Top Rank boxing, PGA Tour golf, college sports, international rugby, cricket, the full library of ESPN Films (including 30 for 30) and more to Roku devices in the U.S. It is available for a 7-day free trial, followed by a subscription fee of $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year.

“Roku customers have enjoyed the ESPN channel for years. The launch of ESPN+ marks an exciting moment for the OTT sports experience, giving consumers more sports content from their favorite pastimes than ever,” said Scott Rosenberg, General Manager of the Platform Business at Roku. “Roku customers that subscribe to ESPN+ will enjoy access to more live sports events, original shows and films, exclusive studio programs and ESPN’s unmatched on-demand library.”

It’s smart for ESPN because Roku customers are exactly who they are marketing towards with the new ESPN+ service – people who have left traditional cable and satellite behind and are now depending on streaming services. It’s going to be important for ESPN+ to reach as many initial customers as possible with their launch so the distribution levels are huge.

ESPN is making a huge bet on ESPN+. Who knows, in five or ten years time (maybe even less) it could be the focal point for their business and their streams of revenue instead of something on the fringes. And maybe by that time, Roku could be a mainstream source for viewing those ESPN platforms too.

[Business Wire]