What NHL and NFL Deals Mean for ESPN’s Streaming Future

Tim Baysinger
·1-min read

ESPN may not want to admit it just yet, but the sports giant’s future increasingly looks like it will be dominated by what is streaming on ESPN+ rather than what the dwindling subscribers to the cable-TV bundle can watch on ESPN. This month alone, ESPN has secured more NHL and, for the first time, NFL games for its three-year-old streaming service. ESPN’s deal with the NHL, which puts the hockey league back on ESPN airwaves for the first time since 2004, greatly increases ESPN+’s foothold in the sport, which has previously been reduced to providing daily out-of-market local TV games. Starting next season, ESPN+ will stream 75 games exclusively, along with fellow Disney-owned streaming service Hulu, as well as simulcast ABC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals. ESPN’s new NFL deal, announced last week, makes the network’s most-popular programming, “Monday Night Football,” finally available for the 12 million-plus ESPN+ subscribers, as well as one exclusive game each season. The deal also includes the option for ESPN+ to be part of ABC’s two Super Bowl broadcasts in 2026 and 2030. Also Read: Did the NFL Just Break the Bundle With Streaming-First Deals? ESPN might not be done either. During a media...

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