ESPN parent Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday that six ABC/Disney and five ESPN channels are available now on Sony’s PlayStation Vue over-the-internet TV streaming service. And to make the service even more appealing, Sony has slashed its cheapest tier’s price by $10 a month.
The “Access” plan, which now costs $39.99 a month, will add ABC, the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior and Freeform (formerly ABC Family), as well as ESPN and ESPN2. Other channels, including Fusion and ESPNU, are available on more expensive tiers.
The partnership, announced in November, filled a conspicuous hole in PlayStation Vue’s offerings, which already included the other Big Three networks, CNN, Fox News, FX and the Food Network on its cheapest tier. Other ESPN channels including ESPN3, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, Longhorn Network, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Classic, will be added down the road.
This is ESPN’s second foray into over-the-top. Dish Network’s Sling TV offers a package that includes ESPN and ESPN2, as well as the Disney Channel and Freeform, for $20 a month, but it’s a more limited product without the ability to pause or record and only offering one stream. PlayStation Vue has a cloud-based DVR system and lets users stream content across devices — something ESPN’s WatchESPN service, which cable subscribers get access to, also allows.
At last month’s Code/Media conference in Southern California, ESPN chief executive John Skipper said the company “calibrated” the level of product it was willing to offer on the lower-priced tiers of over-the-top services like Sling TV so as not to give away the house. PlayStation Vue offers more than Sling TV’s basic tier, but it costs twice as much and is available only in a handful of major cities. And at the conference, Skipper added that ESPN had no intention of offering a standalone product, saying “we do not believe it right now to be good business.”