It has been a long time coming but ESPN’s attempt at a direct to consumer streaming network is here. Unfortunately for some, it was not what they were hoping for. They were hoping for a full replacement to ESPN & ESPN2 but that’s not going to happen as long as ESPN keeps getting subscriber fees from cable companies. Once you get past that disappointment, you will realize they have built a great streaming service for cord cutters and cable subscribers alike. And if you are a fan of soccer, it is more than worth your $5 a month.
ESPN+ went live in April with 2 subscription options: $5 per month or $50 for the year. The original content was kind of slim but ESPN has consistently acquired more exclusive rights to stream on ESPN+. They started to add original shows as well. Including making ESPN FC a daily show. For the sake of this piece, I will focus on their soccer properties but the service has games or shows from nearly every sport, even boxing.
- MLS Live: Every out-of-market game this season (over 250 games). This includes replays of games in case you want to see that Carlos Vela hat trick or Zlatan yelling at Gio.
- USL: Over 450 games this season of 2nd division American soccer. You can catch one of Mexico’s better prospects, 16 year old Efrain Alvarez, play games against pros.
- Chinese Super League: 60 games will be shown from March to November. I know they have slowed down their buying but the league still has Hulk, Oscar and a few other high profile foreign players.
- (Non-Premier League) English Football League: About 200 total soccer matches, including an average of four per week from Sky Bet Championship, League 1 and League 2, plus six matches per month from the EFL Cup (beginning in August) and 16 matches per month throughout the EFL 2018-19 season
- UEFA Nations League: 100-plus live matches from the newly created tournament. Pay-TV customers with an ESPN+ subscription will be able to access the entire tournament including the 36 UNL matches on ESPN linear networks and ESPN3. What is the UEFA Nations League? Wikipedia has you covered. CONCACAF will be launching something similar.
- Eredivisie: 102 regular season games (3 per week) will be streamed on ESPN+. Watching Lozano terrorize Eredivisie defenders just got much easier. Hopefully Antuna starts seeing more playing time as well and Mexico fans can see why Manchester City bought him. With PSV being one of the bigger clubs in the league, look for them to be heavily featured in ESPN+’s 3 weekly games.
- A League and W League in Australia. The A League will stream 140 games October through April. Maybe Usain Bolt will make the Central Coast Mariners and you can stream his debut? While the W League has at least 17 games featured on the service October through March.
- FA Cup: 79 games per season including the Community Shield and FA Cup final, will be streamed exclusively on ESPN+.
- Serie A: ESPN is paying $55mil a year for the next 3 seasons of Italy’s first division. ESPN+ will carry an average of nine matches live each week from August through May, while ESPN networks will televise a Match of the Week. Most telecasts will air on ESPN and ESPN2, and the Match of the Week will also be available in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. Assuming Memo makes the move to Napoli, this will make finding his games quite easy. Also, some Ronaldo guy just signed with Juventus.
With these games coming to you from all over the world, you can catch the European games in the morning and MLS/USL games in the evening. I think ESPN+ is the best deal going right now. I know it doesn’t have the Premier League but you get all those leagues above for $50 a year instead of paying NBC Sports $50 just for the Premier League. This does not count all the non-soccer content on the service too. Its worth signing up for a free trial to see if the service will work for you.