ESPN to launch standalone app in 2025 aimed at cord cutters

Customers wanting ESPN channels without a cable subscription will soon have several options to get its programming.
A button for ESPN+ is on a remote control in Portland, Ore.
Posted at 11:48 AM, Apr 04, 2024

Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors on Wednesday that ESPN will launch a standalone app in the fall of 2025, allowing customers an opportunity to purchase the channel without needing cable. 

The announcement comes months after Disney formed a partnership with Fox and Warner Bros. to bring a direct-to-consumer product that bundles their sports programming into one app. The joint venture is set to launch in the fall of 2024 and will include sports programming from ESPN, Fox Sports, TNT and TBS, among others. 

While ESPN currently has a paid app, many major live sporting events are not included on ESPN Plus. For instance, basketball fans have been unable to watch the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament without a cable subscription. 

"In the fall of 2025, we will make the full suite of ESPN's channels available as a standalone and highly interactive digital destination," Iger said. "This will give consumers the ability to stream their favorite live games and studio programming and take advantage of an immersive customizable sports experience that includes betting, fantasy sports, e-commerce and more."

LSU-Iowa game garners largest NCAA women's basketball TV audience ever
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, center, celebrates with teammates after Iowa defeated LSU.

LSU-Iowa game garners largest NCAA women's basketball TV audience ever

While the men's tournament has seen a slight bump in the TV audience, the women are enjoying unprecedented ratings.


Iger said that this standalone service will be available as a bundle with Disney Plus and Hulu. 

Iger noted that ESPN has a long-term agreement now in place with the College Football Playoff, in addition to its rights to the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL. ESPN has also seen astronomical viewership for the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament with more than 12 million people tuned into Monday's Elite Eight game between Iowa and LSU. 

With its streaming platforms, Iger said he is confident Disney has created a "strong and sustainable streaming business." 

"We like our hand with Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus, and with their combined power, I think Disney has a real chance to become the ultimate streaming destination for consumers," he said.