Disney-owned ESPN is currently in talks to take all of its content online through web-based TV services that have been rumoured from Intel, Google, Apple, and Sony. Bloomberg reports that during an interview John Skipper, president of ESPN, said customers (most likely referring to web TV providers) would have to pay as much or more than cable networks do for the web-based streaming of ESPN's services.
Skipper said ESPN would refuse to offer just one of the channels in its network to the web. Instead, customers will have to have all of the entities of ESPN including the flagship channel, ESPN 2, ESPN U, ESPN Classic, and more - offering the full realm of sports content.
Intel, Google, and Dell have been rumoured to be taking on traditional companies like Comcast, Dish, Time Warner Cable and others with a competitively priced online TV offering for those who want to break-away from the traditional way of consuming content. ESPN calls itself the "worldwide leader in sports" and that's considered true among industry watchers, with roughly 98 million subscribers through cable and satellite. It would be a big win for a web TV property to have ESPN in its content line-up.
ESPN has shown a willingness to embrace the online space in the past with its WatchESPN service - formerly known as ESPN 3 - allowing cable and satellite subscribers to watch selected ESPN content. A WatchESPN app is available on iOS, Android, Xbox, Apple TV, and more. Furthermore, it was willing to pay mobile carriers to not count ESPN content towards a customer's data cap.
A move to bringing all of its content online seems logical in ESPN's next step.
It's worth noting that ESPN says talks are preliminary, and the company is yet to name a specific web TV service through which it would offer content. Still, it's interesting to see such talks beginning, and reminds us of what Viacom and Sony were discussing last week in a similar move.