Disney has known for a long time that it would eventually make the ESPN TV channels available on a standalone streaming service. Now, it seems the company has begun the work of uncoupling the channels from cable providers so it can offer ESPN directly to cordcutters.
The Wall Street Journal says Disney has started laying the groundwork for the transition as it has been in talks with cable providers and sports leagues. The company hasn’t yet locked down a timeline for the standalone ESPN streaming service, which could still be years away.
ESPN is one of the crown jewels of cable bundles. It will still be available on traditional TV platforms after the streaming service goes live, according to the report, though cable providers would have a new competitor to contend with.
Disney debuted ESPN+ in 2018. While that service does include some MLB and NHL games and an NFL game streamed exclusively on it for the first time last season, it doesn’t have ESPN’s TV networks. As such, Disney hopes to bring the matchups ESPN carries (including NBA and NFL games) to the streaming world outside of the confines of services like YouTube TV and Sling.
It’s worth noting that sports streaming rights are a hot commodity among legacy broadcasters and tech companies. Apple has snapped up some MLB and Major League Soccer rights, while YouTube will be the home of the NFL Sunday Ticket starting next season. Peacock, meanwhile, will be the only place where you can watch one of next season’s NFL playoff games.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/disney-is-reportedly-laying-the-groundwork-for-its-standalone-espn-streaming-service-172721356.html?src=rss