ESPN considers an online and mobile app feature to become the hub for sports fans
The GIST: The TV sports guide might undergo a The Princess Diaries–style makeover. According to a Thursday report, ESPN is considering an online and mobile app feature that links out to live sporting event streams — even for events aired by competitors — in an effort to become the hub for sports fans.
The details: ESPN has discussed its idea with major sports leagues and media companies, though no deals or timelines are confirmed. The broadcaster’s new offerings could include alerts for sporting events on live TV and might see ESPN pocket a portion of subscription revenue if users buy another streamer through the feature.
- While ESPN already links out to the sporting events it airs, this innovative guide would also house TV and streaming information on the roughly 70% of U.S. sports that don’t live on the broadcaster’s platforms.
The why: Collaboration with competitors suggests ESPN is prioritizing other revenue opportunities over subscription rates. The new feature could give struggling platforms like regional sports networks a numbers boost and address a huge modern sports problem — the fractured streaming landscape makes it challenging to know what’s on where.
- This is exponentially more difficult for women’s sports specifically, due to limited coverage and fewer hours on traditional platforms. The dearth of information impacts more than just audiences — it hits newsrooms especially hard, according to The Athletic’s Lauren Funke.
- The head of ad marketing told The GIST last month that the publication’s women’s sports journalists say it’s “very difficult to find even information on where to watch the games or how to watch the games.” Yikes.
Zooming out: As profitability continues to evade streamers and market conditions remain less than ideal, finding new revenue paths is increasingly necessary. Bottom-of-the-funnel conversions can help, and ESPN’s proposed feature promises that through affiliate deals with competitors. Teamwork makes the dream work.