Disney CEO confirms launch of full ESPN direct-to-consumer service for second half of 2025
Disney CEO Bob Iger has officially announced the upcoming launch of the full direct-to-consumer (DTC) version of ESPN, slated for the US autumn of 2025.
Currently, ESPN operates its linear networks and the ESPN+ streaming service separately, leading to exclusive coverage of major events like the NFL, NBA and college football on cable platforms.
The new service will merge ESPN’s flagship channel and ESPN+, offering a comprehensive suite of digital features and personalised options, including the addition of ESPN Bet.
Anticipation for the launch is high, with expectations of significant impacts on both the broadcast industry and the broader sports rights market. Disney had previously committed to a 2025 launch, making this the most specific timeframe announced to date.
Iger’s announcement coincides with Disney’s recent confirmation of plans to collaborate with Fox and Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) on a joint venture to introduce a combined sports streaming service later this year. This platform is set to feature linear and digital sports coverage from all three broadcasters, including ESPN’s cable channels and ESPN+, without requiring a cable subscription.
Addressing investors, Iger expressed confidence that the joint platform would not diminish demand for the enhanced DTC service.
“[The ESPN app] will be a very, very immersive, obviously sports-centric app which will have features that this combination with Fox and WBD will not have, such as integrated betting, fantasy and merchandise capabilities,” he explained.
“Obviously [there will be] deep dives with stats and a high degree of customisation and personalisation that [will] … engage sports fans.”