ESPN, Viacom, and Disney to launch streaming services

Streaming services are very popular nowadays, with every media conglomerate wanting in. Last week, we got news about three upcoming new streaming services: ESPN Plus, an unnamed Disney service, and an unnamed Viacom service. Of course, since ESPN is owned by Disney, that’s just two conglomerates behind all three.

ESPN

ESPN’s new streaming service, ESPN Plus, is set to launch this spring, and will cost $4.99 a month. However, while it’ll offer “thousands of hours of live sports programming,” it’s not just a streaming version of the existing ESPN cable channels.

While the TechCrunch article I linked to points out the possibility of original programming, ESPN still sounds vague about what’s being offered. If it’s programming not on the main ESPN channels, what does that leave? (Mashable jokes it’ll be “live curling.”) Also, you’ll still need a cable subscription to use ESPN’s streaming of its cable channels, even if you pay for ESPN Plus.

Disney

Disney Studios, Burbank
Photo by Junkyardsparkle (Wikimedia Commons / CC0)

Disney (ESPN’s owner) has also released details about its previously announced streaming service, answering a few questions. To wit:

  • The Marvel shows on Netflix (“Luke Cage,” etc.) will stay put (for now).
  • No R-rated material on Disney’s service.
  • Five TV shows and four or five original movies will premiere in the service’s first year. Announced possible material include TV shows based on “Monsters Inc.,” “Star Wars,” and “High School Musical.”

No word yet on what the service will cost.

Netflix Marvel show fans who don’t want to spring for a Disney-specific service should be pleased. Still, it’s yet another streaming service expense for families/animation fans. Still, the Disney name and material might make the service successful; its Western animation streaming service rivals will include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Boomerang.

Viacom

SpongeBob SquarePantsFinally, Viacom’s announced its own streaming service. Set to launch by September, it’ll feature “tens of thousands of hours” of Viacom content. No word on what it’ll cost.

TechCrunch notes that while Viacom does release some of its content/cable channels to streaming services, it’s also been withholding much of it from streaming services. I also recall Viacom didn’t go through with a previously announced streaming service plan for Nickelodeon. However, I suppose there’s CBS All Access, run by corporate sibling CBS.

On a related note, there’s been talk of CBS and Viacom re-merging yet again, presumably to keep pace with the recent mergers and buyouts by Comcast and Disney. Granted, I don’t consider it as ground-shaking: A) they’ve merged and split before, B) they’re already owned by the same owner, National Amusements, and C) Viacom’s historically a spin-off of CBS (it was their syndication arm in the 70s/80s). Still, I wonder if this (and other turmoil behind CBS/National Amusement’s ownership) might affect Viacom’s streaming plans.

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