Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that ESPN plans to offer its flagship channel as a stand-alone streaming service in the coming years. This would be a change from ESPN+, which currently offers the network’s streaming catalog of programming and a live feed of ESPN channels with a cable login. No cable or satellite would be required for the new service, although it remains to be seen if the new streaming approach would just be folded into ESPN+.
CivicScience gauged interest in the streaming-only ESPN option, finding over one-quarter of U.S. adults currently claim they’re at least ‘somewhat likely’ to subscribe to such a service. Accepting that the network would remain available on cable plans, this is a sizable chunk of Americans – although the move would be viewed as a major blow to cable providers, especially if other channels broadcasting live events follow suit.
Interest in a stand-alone ESPN streaming service significantly over-indexes among Black, Hispanic or Latino, and Asian or Pacific Islander Americans, with Hispanic and Black adults nearly doubling the Gen Pop’s interest levels. Consistent with other cord-cutting trends, U.S. adults under 35 are the most likely to subscribe to such a service – but the 25-34 half of this age range is drastically more likely to report being ‘very likely’ to subscribe than Gen Z adults (18% compared to 8%).
It’s predictably popular among existing cord-cutters – people who have moved from cable/satellite to streaming-only services – with 48% at least ‘somewhat likely’ to subscribe. But prospective cord-cutters are also outpacing the Gen Pop at the highest interest level, with 11% clocking in at ‘very likely.’ Even those who are not interested at all in cord-cutting exhibit at least some interest in an ESPN streaming service, so it could impact cable customers downsizing their current plan.
Two-thirds of current ESPN+ users rate themselves at least ‘somewhat likely’ to subscribe to the new live streaming service, while half of ESPN+ intenders say the same. Even 21% of non-users – a strong majority of those polled – are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to subscribe, so there’s a strong opportunity to build its base.
CivicScience will continue to track sentiment for a live ESPN streaming service and other industry trends in the future. Get in touch for the insights we won’t publish.