The Future Is Almost Here

When I see articles like this one from Re/Code.net I get the tingling sensation like a six-year-old on the night before Christmas. 

To see that ESPN, the Mothership herself, is looking into launching its first web subscription service for sports is enough to keep me awake and staring at the cookies to see if they've been eaten ... and maybe take a bite myself.

I know you might be thinking, 'it's only cricket', and you're right. I'm not going to subscribe to a cricket channel, but if history is any indication once you open Pandora's Box there is no going back.

HBO announced HBOGo will be a standalone subscription service next year and CBS is already allowing non-cable subscribers to sign up for its internet service. While getting Game of Thrones and Big Bang Theory without having to tie myself to a company like Comcast, I still have to pay the beast to suffer through Redskins' games on Sunday.

Sports are the last bastion of cable-cutters like me. NFL on Sunday's is the only reason I have the most basic cable package (because now I can't get over the air for even FOX or CBS ... queue not-so-silent rage). The NBA is getting on board with digital subscriptions along with Major League Soccer. How much longer before Major League Baseball looks into this? Hockey would be a natural fit considering how far it lags behind in popularity (Go Penguins!). If there is money to be made a business will exploit it. 

“We think about, are there sports events we could offer where the consumer would pay us directly — not the content on our current linear networks. This has to be new [content], and it would create a third revenue stream for us,” he said in September. “I do want to be clear: We are not looking to disrupt our linear channels and the content that’s on them now. We’re going to acquire new content and new kinds of things to do direct-to-consumer.” 
— John Skipper, ESPN

 

The quote above is not that different from HBOGo CEO Jeff Bewkes when he spoke with Deadline in early 2013.

“We have the rights to do it and we would do it if we thought it was in our economic best interest,” Bewkes said, according to Deadline, adding that the market for a stand-alone HBO streaming service is “not sufficiently big enough now” in the United States."

How much changes in the span of a year. 

I'm willing to wager that within a year ESPN is going to open the platform further.  My opinion (uneducated as it may be) is they are testing the waters with a sport that won't ruffle any feathers and then once the foot is in the door, kick it down.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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Mike Loveday

I started my journalism career in college as an entertainment writer and eventually moved into the Sports Editor position. After graduation I worked as a Stringer for the Wilmington Star-News and covered Track & Field and Lacorsse. After eight months I was hired as a General Assignment Reporter for the Topsail Voice. In 2006, I was hired by Student Sports as a general assignment writer and moved into the role of Editor for MDVarsity.com. Purchased by ESPN in July 2008, Student Sports relaunched as ESPNRISE.com and I was promoted to the Contact Sports Editor in charge of football and lacrosse. In 2009, I took over lacrosse full-time. I am currently the Founder and COO of LaxRecords.com and the Mid-Atlantic reporter for US Lacrosse and where I manage the Nike/US Lacrosse Top 25 voting panel and a staff of four freelance journalists.