Like many twenty-somethings, I’ve “cut the cord.” For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I’ve ditched cable’s homicidal prices for Internet-only services, which is fine since I watched maybe five percent of what my college’s Time Warner package offered.
Although, I did watch lots of sports. Now, I have to either a.) go to a bar or b.) pirate low-quality streams in order to watch them. However, this could change, as ESPN president John Skipper recently announced at the company’s Bristol, Connecticut, headquarters that ESPN is looking to sell its content suite – including the main channel, ESPN2 and ESPN News – to a web-based service.
Bloomberg initially reported the news, and it seems that ESPN–although mum on specific services–would offer their programming to either Sony (which recently reached a deal with Viacom to stream some of Viacom’s content), Intel or Google. Whichever service did receive ESPN’s grab-bag would instantly become the streaming service of choice, offering the most sought after programming available.
There are a few caveats within any potential deal, though. First, the winning service would have to sign a “take or pay” contract, which means it would have to pay the entire deal regardless of whether it hit its subscriber target number. The service could also not pick and choose what it wanted to stream. It would have to provide everything within ESPN’s universe, so expect to pay a pretty penny for those Sunday PBA tournaments.
Also expect the deal to be entirely on ESPN’s terms. Sports On Earth recently profiled how sports programming has caused cable prices to explode, its catalyst being exponentially growing league rights fees. A subscription will probably be expensive, but it beats having to go all-in on an even more expensive cable package*.
There has been no word yet on when sports fans–or I–can expect to subscribe to the service.
* – Realize that ESPN’s current in-house streaming service, ESPN3, is currently only available to people with a cable subscription–not to mention its schedule of content often only covers the hinterlands of the sports universe.