ESPN’s long awaited new digital platform launches on Thursday, April 12 and it will have a fairly significant impact on soccer fans and soccer bars alike. Here are the answers to a few questions you may have as this new platform rolls out.
What is the cost?
The cost of ESPN + will be $4.99 per month, or $49.99 for the year if you so choose.
What soccer will it carry?
ESPN + will carry more than 250 out-of-market MLS games this season, replacing the traditional ‘MLS Live’ digital platform. These games will be subject to blackout in some cases. ESPN has also come to an agreement to carry over 450 USL games, including the USL Cup this season. Good news for teams like FC Cincinnati, The Sacramento Republic and more!
The platform will also carry over 200 games from the EFL Championship, frustrating some fans who have grown used to games on ESPN 3, but none the less a relief to still have access.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly for soccer bars, is the UEFA Nations League. With over 100 games from this newly formed tournament, this addition makes ESPN + an absolute must for soccer bars as it will hopefully bring new life to the dreaded ‘International Friendly Break’ that stifles momentum each time it rears its ugly head.
Is it worth it?
As mentioned, for soccer bar owners the platform is simply a must, and for things like the UEFA Nations League it will certainly prove worth it. For fans its a bit of a tougher decision. Having already suffered the burden of NBC Gold, soccer fans are surely growing wary of platforms that inflict further expense on top of their standard cable rates. However, this app carries a lot more than MLS Live did and it comes at a lower cost, so for MLS fans who were already paying for that, this is great news. Undoubtedly fans of any USL teams will also be delighted as their games will now be more accessible than ever, so the worth for the fan is really a matter of perspective and interest. For fans of the big European leagues this may not seem worth the extra money, perhaps they’ll be best served at their local soccer bars when the UEFA Nations League games roll around.
Its understandable for emotions to be split on this one. Lately it seems as though soccer is drifting further and further towards digital and streaming platforms, and with so many in play at additional cost to cable this can add up quickly. Bars have quickly gone from having the luxury of being able to stream to it being absolutely essential to have the ability to stream several games at a time. Roku sticks, laptops, apple tv’s and so on are all common place in soccer bars these days, giving further headaches to managers and putting more pressure on bandwidth.
However, we must not forget how not too long ago there was little to no access to soccer, followed by the draconian days of premium sports and $20 cover charges. Soccer is unlike MLB or the NHL, there are vast amounts leagues and cups, clubs and Countries, friendlies and finals …. its a sports world of itself and if platforms like ESPN + make coverage better, or even simply possible, then I welcome them.
Ultimately this is good news and hopefully a stepping stone to more and more soccer being available in the near future without further fees or subscriptions.
If any soccer bars have any further questions please feel free to contact us!