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ESPN to launch new streaming service in 2018. Will it impact BYU and Utah sports?

Disney announced plans to launch an independent streaming app, one that’s different than WatchESPN.
Disney announced plans to launch an independent streaming app, one that’s different than WatchESPN.

SALT LAKE CITY — Disney announced Tuesday that it plans to pull its content from Netflix and create its own streaming app.

Disney said its content will still be available on Netflix until 2019 when it will launch its own streaming service. That will kick off with the upcoming live-action “The Lion King” and “Toy Story 4.”

But Disney also announced plans to launch an independent streaming app, one that’s different than WatchESPN.

Currently, subscribers can log in to WatchESPN (often referred to as ESPN3) and watch content currently airing on ESPN, as well as archived content, MarketWatch reported.

This new independent streaming service would be more of the same, with a few differences.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what subscribers and sports fans can expect.

When will it launch?

According to CNN, the ESPN streaming service will launch in 2018.

Will you need a cable subscription?

Yes and no. Subscribers will need a cable bundle to access content that’s currently airing on the ESPN channels, MarketWatch reported.

But those without cable are the target for the new streaming service, too, according to The Houston Chronicle. The app will look to impact “the availability of some sports content to cord-cutters and, in the words of one analyst, cord-nevers,” the Chronicle reported.

What will be available?

Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said subscribers could pay for specific packages or sports, depending on what Disney builds, according to Sporting News.

“So you’ll watch a highlight, and if you want to buy maybe part of a game that’s going on live, if you want to buy that game, you’ll be able to buy it directly through the app or subscribe to the service directly through the app,” Iger explained. “It’s basically a one-stop shopping for the consumer and it’s one-stop shopping for us in terms of our ability to manage the consumer that wants to consume sports through ESPN.”

Sporting News reported that the service will have close to 10,000 live events every year, with both national and international events.

Customers will have a chance to watch content from MLB, MLS, NHL, Grand Slam tennis and college sports.

MLB.TV, NHL.TV and MLS Live will also be available, according to a Disney statement.

What won’t be available?

The Verge reported that ESPN programming like SportsCenter may not be available.

How will this impact BYU sports?

It shouldn’t change too much for BYU sports. The new service will include college sports, which would include anytime BYU or other Utah universities make it onto ESPN.

The 2018 launch date is also good news for BYU sports fans. BYU announced earlier this year that it extended its contract with ESPN through 2019, according to the Deseret News.

"We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with ESPN for decades and that relationship seems to get stronger every year," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a press release at the time. "There is great collaboration, and I feel really good about what we are doing together. We’ve had good dialogue about extending the contract and felt this option would give us some time for additional conversations."

Will this impact the University of Utah?

Probably not. In October 2016, the University of Utah hosted ESPN’s “College GameDay.” It’s unclear if that show will be exclusive to cable subscribers or on the app.

What will it look like?

The app won’t look all that different from the current app, but could become a “one-stop shop for scores, news, analysis, video, and more, and in addition to the multi-sport setup, legitimate subscribers will be able to access all of ESPN's TV networks,” according to CinemaBlend.

How much will it cost?

ESPN and Disney have yet to set a price point, according to The Verge.

What about commercials?

Iger also has previously spoken about how he doesn’t like commercials, so the sports games may not come with them, either.

Why did ESPN do this?

ESPN has been seeing an ongoing drop in viewership. Poynter reported that this subscription service is an offensive move to help ESPN gain viewers.