What is ESPN Plus?
A Brief History of ESPN
Bill Rasmussen had a dream. Recently fired from his job with the now defunct Hartford Whalers of the old World Hockey Association, Bill and his son had a vision of a 24-hour-a-day sports network. Although the naysayers said it would never work - after all, are Americans really that crazy about sports? - the Rasmussens persevered and bought office space in Bristol, Connecticut, mounted satellites, and secured a $1 million sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch to be the exclusive beer advertised on the network.
On September 7, 1979, ESPN debuted on the airwaves beginning with a news-style show that was simply called "SportsCenter". The show was taped in front of a live studio audience and broadcast to over a million sports fans and cable subscribers across the United States. The following spring, the fledgling network covered the early rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament and promoted it with the now iconic moniker "March Madness". The show's hosts were part sports fans and part entertainers as outgoing personalities like Dick Vitale and others brought interest and enthusiasm to every sports game and original programming.
The exciting new network was noticed by more than just sports fans and in 1984, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) bought 100% of ESPN from the Rasmussens. This added credibility to the network and over the next decade, the network added NCAA college football games, Sunday Night Football for National Football League (NFL) and became a legitimate competitor with traditional networks like the National Broadcast Corporation (NBC) and the Columbia Broadcast System (CBS) for national sports coverage.
In the years that followed, the network would cover all major sports, including the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), MLB.tv, and college sports. It would also add a second channel – ESPN2 – to cover more events and also added ESPNU. In 2018, the network introduced a new streaming service called ESPN Plus (ESPN+)1
ESPN Plus: Streaming sports 24/7
This new streaming platform is called by many a "grand slam" for sports fans and allows you to watch exclusive sports video content and in-depth sports news and analysis. When you subscribe, you can access ESPN Plus content on your televisions and also through the ESPN app on your smartphone (iPhone or Android) or tablet. This is because ESPN Plus is considered to be a complementary addition to the ESPN network and not an entirely separate streaming service. ESPN Insider also merged with ESPN Plus as an add on, giving viewers of the streaming app even more sports programming to choose from.
What does ESPN Plus include?
As a subscriber and a sports fan, you can watch live games and sports content from the MLB, NHL, MLS, PGA golf, UFC, UFC Fight Night and some UFC pay-per-views (PPVs), international soccer including ESPN FC and FA Cup soccer league, tennis, top rank boxing and PGA golf. Depending on your location, some blackout restrictions may apply. Programming can also be affected by California privacy rights.
According to ESPN:
“There are also original shows exclusive to ESPN+ like in-depth game recaps and analyses hosted by Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant, and Daniel Cormier, and a shorter version of "NFL Primetime." Original shows and documentaries like "30 for 30" as well as full replays of historic NFL games are also available to stream on-demand.”2
What’s not included with ESPN Plus.
Because it is technically separate from ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNews, live sports on those networks are not included with a subscription. This also means that you will not have access to any Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Baseball or other MLB games that are being streamed from these networks. However, you will get one MLB and NHL game per day when they are in season and you will receive no display ads when watching original programming - although you will see commercials during live events.
Can you watch ESPN Plus on your TV?
In most cases yes. According to Cordcutters3, with an ESPN Plus subscription, you can watch the ESPN app through your ESPN account using your streaming device, including:
- Roku players and televisions
- Amazon Fire television devices
- Apple TV
- Samsung televisions
- Xbox One
You may also be able to mirror your streaming services to a smart TV.
How much does ESPN Plus cost?
The ESPN Plus app is available in the iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android app stores and costs $4.99 monthly or $49.99 annually. You can find more details on espn.com.
What’s the Disney connection?
Besides owning ESPN, Disney also has a controlling interest in Hulu after acquiring its 20th Century Fox assets. Here are more details from TheVerge.com:
Disney laid out its direct-to-consumer strategy, going over the many assets that put the company in a strong position as it prepares for a major face-off with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other video streaming services. Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney's direct-to-consumer division, didn't waste time stating the obvious: Disney will "likely" sell its standalone, paid subscription services - Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu - as a bundle for an appealing price.
Is ESPN Plus right for you?
ESPN Plus is great for the sports fan and "cord cutters" who appreciate a good app that offers some games that may not be featured on the main ESPN channel feeds (European soccer for example). Keep in mind that this is not a replacement for ESPN as you know it on cable and satellite.
Think of it as an addition to the programming that ESPN is known for. While the sports coverage and game offerings can be somewhat unpredictable (for instance, programming schedules may be updated throughout the week and month with little or no notice), it still can be a nice "add-on" for the sports fan who is looking for some games you may never find on mainstream sports networks.
Get in the Game with Suddenlink.
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