July 8, 2020
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Time Inc is launching a Sports Illustrated TV streaming service on Amazon while Disney launches it’s competition ESPN+.

The difference between the two are quite staggering when you compare them. Sports Illustrated TV will be limited at first as it failed to lock down any big deals with sports franchises. There may be ample room in the future for Amazon to link up with new and/or rising sports like Lacrosse or maybe even Esports, but for now Sports Illustrated will feature video content that mostly aligns with it’s magazine content. That is a selection of curated sporty movies and documentaries for $4.99. 

Disney meanwhile announced that there will be a new ESPN service available for consumers but neglected to release pricing details except that it will be available in a redesigned app. It’s unclear how the new service will be tied into Disney’s overall streaming agenda. Will there be bundles? Or will ESPN remain a separate entity?

There are risks associated with each sports service. As established media companies step in to fill the void that startups have created, Sports Illustrated TV seems to be going the traditional route that new cable TV channels have gone. Gather the rights of movies and TV shows and tailor them to match what your audience wants. Once you get an understanding of your audience release your own content. It might be the most successful of the two in the long run

ESPN however, is the big dog right out of the gate. It already has exclusive deals in place for live sports games, and is planning tons of special live events, but it’s a battered brand constantly losing money precisely because of this industry it now wants to get into. It’s also still not clear if the service will be available to those cord cutters, which would be odd since there is currently no way to get ESPN otherwise than through the cable company.

My conclusion: If any of these ventures into the streaming space is successful, I’ll put my money on Sports Illustrated. They are the less hostile friendlier alternative choice, but then again. People love their Sportscenter!

John J. Falco