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ESPN's sports streaming service hits 1 million subscribers in five months

ESPN's sports streaming service hits 1 million subscribers in five months
The Walt Disney Co.-owned media titan on Thursday revealed that its sports streaming service ESPN+ has grown to 1 million subscribers in its first five months. (Melissa Rawlins / ESPN Images)

ESPN now has bragging rights in its battle for online consumers.

The Walt Disney Co.-owned media titan on Thursday revealed that its sports streaming service ESPN+ has grown to 1 million subscribers in its first five months of existence.

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It’s the first time ESPN has disclosed subscriber numbers for the nascent direct-to-consumer offering, which launched in April and costs viewers $4.99 a month for on-demand access to games and documentaries.

ESPN+ is meant to keep the sports giant relevant in the age of cord-cutting and online binge-viewing. Once a reliable growth engine for Disney, the behemoth has been squeezed by consumers ditching cable packages and the rising costs of televising major sports events.

Programming on the service includes games from Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, soccer, boxing, college football and tennis. It also features the full library of ESPN’s acclaimed “30 for 30” documentary series.

The streaming service is part of Disney and Chief Executive Bob Iger’s plan to transform the company into a powerhouse in digital entertainment to compete with insurgents including Netflix. Disney is expected to unveil an entertainment-focused streaming service next year with movies and shows from brands including Marvel and Star Wars.

“We’re thrilled so many sports fans have quickly come to love the service,” said Kevin Mayer, head of Disney’s direct-to-consumer business, in a statement. “The future is bright and we believe growth will continue as we add features, distribution partners and more exclusive content in the coming months.”

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