Disney appears to be moving forward with its plan to launch a direct-to-consumer version of ESPN and a new report suggests that Disney wants two different companies to come in and partner on the streaming version.
For some time now, it has been understood that Disney is looking to make some major changes to ESPN, with the option of selling part or all of the service also a possibility. Previous reports indicated that Disney has already had talks with some of the biggest players, including both Apple and Amazon.
According to a new article by New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, Disney is hoping to secure the help of two different companies to launch the direct-to-consumer version of ESPN. According to the report, the ideal situation for Disney would be for one of those partners to be a digital company. For example, Apple or Amazon. Disney would then like the second partner to be a mobile provider. For example, T-Mobile or Verizon.
When two partners are better than one
By doubling down on partners, the idea here is Disney will be in a better position to maximize the distribution of a direct-to-consumer service. For example, a deal with Apple could lead to better placement on the company’s devices, while taking advantage of Apple’s streamlined subscription process.
The same would also likely be the case for any carrier that Disney opted to partner with, making it easier to tap into the carrier’s user base, and potentially even bundle ESPN with select carrier plans. We have only just recently seen an example of such bundling at the home level with the recent deal between Disney and Charter that will see Disney+ and ESPN+ offered as part of Spectrum TV packages.
If the report is correct, then it would also seem that Disney is hoping to achieve all of this while also only offering 10% of ESPN in return. However, the New York Post does suggest this amount is “fluid” and the final percentage could be higher, presumably if Disney manages to secure its preferred partners.
In terms of when the direct-to-consumer version of ESPN might launch, Marchand suggests 2025 is the most likely year.