Even if you’re not a sports fan, you’ve likely heard of ESPN. But unless you’re carousing the website for sports news or you can’t get enough sports in your life, you may not have heard of ESPN’s bonus paid service, ESPN+. It isn’t a replacement for the cable channel, but ESPN+ instead gives its subscribers additional access to Insider content on ESPN.com and exclusive access to certain sports coverage, events, shows, and more.
If you want more access to sports news, games, shows, documentaries, and more, ESPN+ is a great investment. Here’s what you need to know before you subscribe.
What it costs
If it seems right for you, there are three different subscription models. An ESPN+ subscription costs either $5 per month or $50 annually. While more expensive up front, the yearly subscription model saves you $10 per year. ESPN also offers occasional deals that bundle yearly ESPN+ subscriptions with UFC Pay-Per-Views, so if you’re a fan of both, keep an eye out and you may be able to save a few bucks.
Also, if you want to watch ESPN+, the new Disney+ streaming service, and Hulu, you can get them all in a package — called the Disney+ Bundle — that costs just $13 a month. That’s $5 cheaper than it would cost if you were to subscribe to all three separately.
Watching live ESPN channels will still require a paid TV subscription, whether from cable, satellite, or a live TV streaming service. The app acts as a gatekeeper by requiring users to sign in with their TV provider account to enable live viewing. If you need help finding a streaming TV provider, take a look at our live TV streaming services guide.
If you decide the service isn’t meeting your needs, you can cancel your subscription at any time, with no strings attached.
What you get
The service includes select live MLB, NHL, NBA, and MLS games, as well as college sports, PGA golf, Top Rank Boxing, and Grand Slam tennis matches. You’ll also find the United Soccer League, cricket, rugby, Canadian Football League, English Football League, and UEFA Nations League games.
ESPN+ is becoming a soccer fan’s best friend: In addition to the soccer content listed above, ESPN+ has a multiyear deal with the FA Cup — the oldest domestic cup tournament in the world — to stream English football matches in the U.S. In 2020, ESPN+ will also stream the Bundesliga, Germany’s top football league, which previously cost $20 through Fox on its own.
The app gives you access to scores, news, sports radio, podcasts, an on-demand library, and certain games and programming not available on ESPN’s cable channels, plus there’s a condensed, digital version of the network’s popular SportsCenter roundup each day. ESPN+ is also the only place to find the new, digital version of ESPN’s NFL Prime Time.
It also enhances your existing sports subscriptions — if you happen to subscribe to another premium sports streaming service, like MLB.tv or NHL.tv, you’ll be able to access out-of-market games through the ESPN app.
ESPN also owns exclusive rights to UFC pay-per-views, making ESPN+ the only place where you can stream the promotion’s biggest matches. Those events don’t all come free with an ESPN+ subscription, however. Fight Nights are included, but each PPV will cost an extra $60 on top of your existing subscription fees. Here’s where you can stay up to date with UFC results, scheduled fights, top fighters, and more.
In addition to live sports, ESPN+ also includes a wide variety of classic and original ESPN content. ESPN+ is home to the entire 30 for 30 documentary library, including hit sports docs like the new Michael Jordan series The Last Dance, the complete, Academy Award-winning O.J Simpson: Made in America series, and Long Gone Summer. Original content includes NBA Rooks, which follows NBA rookies in their first season; The Boardroom with KD, Kevin Durant’s show about the business side of sports; Peyton’s Places, Peyton Manning’s show discussing NFL history, current events, interviews, and more; Detail, a show that features elite athletes like Kobe Bryant, Daniel Cormier, Manning, and more breaking down game film as they would in the pros; and much more.
After hiring House of Highlights founder Omar Raja, ESPN renewed its commitment to digital programming by renovating a 2,750-square-foot studio space dedicated to all things digital. Now, ESPN plans to air more than 500 live original shows across ESPN+ and other platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook.
What about the viewing?
Critically for sports content, video can be streamed at up to 60 frames per second, though this will increase your data charges if you’re watching over a mobile connection. Unfortunately, one area where ESPN+ is a lot like its cable channel sibling is advertising. Despite the subscription model, you’ll still encounter a limited number of ads while watching live programming.
On the bright side, if you happen to miss the first part of a game, you can watch live content from the beginning, even if you start watching late.
Not everyone has been thrilled with the service’s performance. Past production problems have forced ESPN+ to issue apologies.
What do I need?
The ESPN app is available on almost every device and platform we can think of, including Android smartphones, Android TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Smart TVs, Fire/Kindle tablets, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Roku, Oculus Go, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Samsung Smart TVs.
With any luck, platforms like LG’s WebOS and Vizio’s SmartCast will join the list soon. For now, Vizio owners can use their TV’s built-in Chromecast function to access ESPN+. The only limitation for viewing on any device is that you must be in the U.S. to watch. For now, there are no international plans – which could be a sticking point for some viewers. It could change in the future, however, so we’ll share updates as they occur. Barring issues with production, though, we can’t find much else to complain about with ESPN+.
Of course, ongoing updates and new developments mean ESPN+ is likely to evolve even more. For now, you can learn more about the service on the ESPN Media Zone website. Viewers with iOS devices can download the ESPN app via iTunes, while Android users will find it on the Play Store.