Disney’s ESPN Streaming Service Surpasses One Million Subscribers

Disney’s ESPN Streaming Service Surpasses One Million Subscribers

Over the last several quarters, one of the few blemishes to be had with Disney has been ESPN as chord cutters moved away from the sports programming behemoth. While it took some time for Disney to get its digital offering together, which included some headcount pruning and other cost-saving measures, this past April it launched ESPN+. Priced at $4.99 per month, the service just signed up its one millionth paying subscriber.

This is significant for a few reasons. First, it shows the Content is King aspect of our Digital Lifestyle investing theme remains firmly intact. Second, it shows Disney can win consumer wallets with a streaming service that is value priced compared to some of the other streaming service bundles like those found at Netflix or Hulu. Third, in many ways, this is a test bed for Disney’s other streaming initiatives that will leverage the soon to be acquired Fox content and character library alongside those from other Disney properties such as Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars.

While the haul to be had from those one million ESPN+ subscribers is relatively small relative to Disney’s overall revenue stream, as the subscriber base continues to grow investors will begin to value the company differently. Yes, it will take time – one million is a far cry from the 130 million at Netflix, but Disney has one of the best content libraries to leverage. I’ll continue to watch the progress of ESPN+ as well as the adoption of its other streaming efforts.

 

ESPN said it has signed up more than one million paying subscribers for the streaming service it launched in April, a boost of confidence for majority-owner Walt Disney Co.’s effort to win over cable TV cord-cutters.

The ESPN+ streaming service, priced at $4.99 a month, offers fans hundreds of live Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games, college football and soccer matches from around the world.

It also carries Top Rank Boxing, Ultimate Fighting Championship matchups, and original studio programming like “Detail” hosted by Kobe Bryant. The service doesn’t carry live streams from ESPN’s TV channels.

ESPN has lost millions of subscribers to its cable channels in recent years, stoking concerns on Wall Street about the sports TV juggernaut’s financial health and more broadly about how deeply the cord-cutting phenomenon will hurt the entire pay-TV industry.

In a statement, Mr. Pitaro said “combining sports, technology and the ESPN brand is a very powerful combination, and we are just getting started.”

ESPN+ has been a big part of Disney’s efforts to take a piece of the burgeoning streaming economy. Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger has said that the company’s pending acquisitionof 21st Century Fox Inc. is a foundational part of its plan to take on Netflix Inc. globally.

ESPN+ faces an array of competitors. Other media companies like AT&T Inc.’s Turner andCBS Corp. have released sports-focused streaming competitors, while tech companies likeAmazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. have showed keen interest in competing with ESPN for marquee sports rights.

In March, longtime Disney corporate strategy executive Kevin Mayer took over a new streaming and international division that will oversee both ESPN+ and a new family-focused streaming service that Disney will launch in 2019.

Source: ESPN Streaming Service Surpasses One Million Subscribers – WSJ

Facebook’s Content is King effort Watch goes live… will you watch it? 

Facebook’s Content is King effort Watch goes live… will you watch it? 

 

We’ve seen a number of companies, like Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) look to position themselves within our Content is King investing theme. It’s a smart strategy as that proprietary content is a competitive moat that helps reduce customer churn. With Watch, Facebook (FB) is looking to push into streaming video and vie with Alphabet’s (GOOGL) YouTube as a home for longer-form video. And Facebook is hoping to grab a bigger chunk of money from advertisers’ TV budgets, by steering users toward content with more 15-second ad-break opportunities.

It’s worth noting that in addition to smartphones and desktops, Watch is available on several connected-TV platforms: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Samsung Smart TV. We like the multi-platform approach, especially since Apple TV has yet to get Amazon’s Prime Video… perhaps we’ll hear more on that on Sept. 12 at Apple’s next big event?

Starting Thursday, Facebook’s Watch feature — essentially a programming guide to episodic shows hosted on the social platform — will become broadly available to users in the U.S., after a three-week limited beta run.

The Watch guide is stocked with several hundred shows, a mélange of scripted, reality, documentary and sports content of varying lengths from both traditional media companies and individual digital creators. (Here’s a select list of shows currently in Watch or coming soon.) The new Watch tab isn’t the only way to access the series: They’re also available through Facebook’s new “Show Pages,” which provide features specifically for episodic video content.

 

Source: Facebook Launches Watch Feature, Shows in U.S.: Will Viewers Tune In? | Variety

Apple to spend big to ride our Content is King theme 

Apple to spend big to ride our Content is King theme 

 

Thus far Apple (AAPL) has stayed on the Content is King theme sidelines, but a combination of recent hire and a purported $1 billion check book to develop content change that. Granted, that $1 billion is well below what Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) are spending, but Apple has Apple TV – a solid platform that is bringing Amazon’s Prime Video and Wal-Mart’s (WMT) Vudu video service under its offering. As we like to say at Tematica, the only thing better than having one of our investment tailwinds behind a company’s back is having several of them.

Apple appears to be taking original content production very seriously. Building on significant talent hires, the Wall Street Journal writes Apple has readied a $1 billion budget to ‘procure and produce’ content over the next year.The report says the sum is about half what HBO spent on production last year.

Apple could launch up to ten new shows, with Apple SVP Eddy Cue said to have ambitions to offer shows that rival Game of Thrones.Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free TrialApple’s initial rounds of content have not been runaway successes, with Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke receiving bad-to-mild reviews from critics.

Reach of the shows has also been limited to users with Apple Music subscriptions.However, until recently, it didn’t really feel like Apple was giving much priority to original content efforts. With a large wallet and premiere talent leading the video programming division, it is likely that the quality of Apple’s in-development programming will also be higher.

Source: Apple to spend $1bn on original content and produce up to 10 new shows over the next year, according to report | 9to5Mac