Disney will raise the monthly and annual fees for ESPN Plus, one of three different subscription-based streaming services it operates in the U.S., in a maneuver that signals how much the media industry is starting to depend on those direct-to-consumer outlets for new revenue.
Starting on Aug. 13, the price of an ESPN Plus subscription will rise to $6.99 a month and $69.99 a year, up from $5.99 a month and $59.99 per year. Disney is informing subscribers of the news on Monday. Prices for the UFC pay-per-view matches featured on the service remain unchanged, as does the price for getting a bundle of all of Disney’s U.S. services, which includes Hulu and Disney Plus. The group subscription costs $13.99 per month, 30% less than the cost of individual subscriptions to all three services.
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The company raised the monthly subscription cost last year for new ESPN Plus subscribers to $5.99.
The price hike comes after ESPN unveiled a passel of sports rights deals that call for significant amounts of new and archival content to makes its way to the company’s streaming outlet. A new deal with the National Hockey League will make 75 games available via ESPN Plus exclusively. And a pact between ESPN and the All-England Lawn Tennis Club for rights to the iconic Wimbledon tournament calls for ESPN Plus to live-stream activity all courts during the event and to be the only outlet to feature full replays for all matches. The Club is also making available archival material such as films, classic matches, highlight shows and press conferences. ESPN Plus is also slated to become a showcase for LaLiga soccer exclusively after August and PGA Tour Live starting next season.
The move suggests Disney is eager to push more customers to pick up its bundle, gaining subscribers for all three services and added penetration into the streaming outlets in consumers’ homes.
Disney said in April that ESPN Plus had won around 13.8 million subscribers.
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