Earlier this week, sports media giants ESPN announced a joint partnership with FOX and Warner Bros. Discovery to create a new, 3-in-1, sports streaming bundle. By Brian Ludden
According to a press release from ESPN, “fans would have access to the linear sports networks including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, truTV, as well as ESPN+.”
The new service, which will have its own standalone app, will broadcast thousands of sporting events, including college sports such as soccer. The service is currently expected to launch in Fall 2024, which falls right in the college soccer season.
Currently, many conferences such as the Big 12 and Sun Belt use ESPN+ to show live games. In addition, ACC and SEC games are also shown on the ESPN Family of Networks, while Big Ten matches are shown on Big Ten Network and BTN+. While ESPN+ will be included in the new service, other “over-the-top” services such as ACC Network Extra, SEC Network +, and BTN+ will not. Fans of teams in the ACC, which will include the addition of SMU, Stanford, and California, will have most of their games shown on ACC Network Extra, with a few select games on the linear ACC Network and ESPNU. It’s a similar situation for SEC and Big Ten fans, with only a few games likely to be shown on channels included in the new combined service. However, most SEC and Big Ten matches will be shown on SEC Network + and BTN+ respectively.
Here’s a simpler look at the relevant channels and potential matches (based of previous years) shown on each:
ESPNU – College Cup, ACC Championships, other high-profile matches
ACC Network – Select ACC matches, most ACC Tournament matches
SEC Network – Select SEC matches, SEC Tournament
FS2 – Select Big East matches, Big East Tournament
BTN – Select Big Ten matches, some Big Ten Tournament matches
ESPN+ – Matches from many conferences including the Big 12, Sun Belt, and WCC, entire NCAA Tournament
It’s important to note that the Division 1 men’s and women’s tournaments, shown on ESPN+ with the College Cup on ESPNU, will be available on the new service.
Although a price has not yet been announced, CNBC reported that the cost for the entire package will be around $45-50 per month, while Yahoo reported it being slightly lower at $40 per month. For comparison, a monthly membership to ESPN+ will cost you $11. A BTN+ subscription costs $10-15 per month depending on which subscription level you choose, or a soccer-only pass can be bought for $50. The other main broadcaster for college soccer is FloSports, which costs a steep $30 per month (or $12.50 per month with the annual subscription) for just a few conferences.
Overall, I think this new service will be good for fans of all sports, like myself. Fans who enjoy watching college soccer along with other collegiate and professional sports may find themselves buying this service. For fans who just prefer watching college soccer, this plan may not be as attractive, as ESPN+ can be purchased separately. Additionally, the absence of SECN+, ACC Network Extra, and BTN+ may mean fans look for subscriptions to those services individually instead.
Brain Ludden is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.