Monday December 4, 2023

ESPN+ Embraces Paywalls

  • Sports Illustrated is the latest media outlet to put up a paywall on its online content.
  • ESPN has been leaning more into the model as well.
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

The scores are free, but the analysis will cost you.

Last week, Disney announced impressive growth of its streaming and subscription businesses, which have helped keep the company profitable while it waits to fully reopen its famous amusement parks.

Disney+ got the bulk of attention as it closes in on 100 million subscribers, but the earnings report also showed significant growth for ESPN+, which now has 12.1 million subscribers — almost double the 6.6 million it had a year ago.

The company has sought to grow its subscriber base by placing more of its writers behind the ESPN+ paywall.

ESPN put all of its analytical sports writing behind the ESPN+ paywall in November, which affected 23 high-profile writers such as fantasy football analyst Matthew Berry and NBA writer Zach Lowe.

Many of the company’s writers were already exclusive to ESPN+ after the streaming service absorbed ESPN Insider subscribers in 2018, but the November reorg doubled the amount of ESPN+ exclusive writers.

Similarly, Sports Illustrated — which sold to Authentic Brands Group for $110 million in 2019 — introduced a paywall earlier this month.

In general, paywalls have been posited as a potential savior for media outlets in a volatile industry. A reported 76% of U.S. newspapers had paywalls in 2019, up from 60% two years earlier.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

TV Networks Are Programming College Football’s Future: What’s Next

Conference championship weekends will have a different feel in the future.
Shaquille O'Neal

A.I. Shaq? Authentic Files Trademarks Hinting at Virtual Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal and licensing group claim “ASK SHAQ” and “SHAQ A.I.”
The College Football Playoff is considering rotating TV networks for the national championship game.

CFP Considers Super Bowl-Like Rotation For National Championship Game

Multiple networks could share rights to the championship game, sources told FOS.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

CFP Selection Turns Heads with Controversial Selection


Featured Today

The future of the Pac-12 rests on a court decision.
November 24, 2023

The Pac-12 Plays Its Final Regular-Season Game. Then A Court Decides Its Fate.

The conference's future rests with a court decision.
Lane Kiffin
November 9, 2023

Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin Lawyers Argue for Dismissal of Player Lawsuit

FOS obtained audio of Lane Kiffin's interaction with the player behind lawsuit.
LSU Lady Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey reacts against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the NCAA Womens Basketball Final Four National Championship at American Airlines Center.
November 6, 2023

Who Is The Highest-Paid Women’s College Basketball Coach?

LSU rewarded Kim Mulkey after winning a national title after her second year leading the program.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Saco Bay PT
Multiple - USA Careers

Would Disney's ESPN Walk Away From The NBA?

Will financial pressures impact the company's decision with a longtime partner?
November 30, 2023

PFL, ESPN Agree on New Multiyear Broadcast Rights Deal

ESPN+ PPV will be the home of the PFL’s new Super Fight Division.
Detailed view of the new In-Season Tournament court before the game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Dallas Mavericks at the Smoothie King Center.
November 30, 2023

New Orleans Pelicans Reportedly Headed For Local Television

The Pelicans could air games on over-the-air channel Fox 8.

NHL’s Chris Foster on Amplifying Content Distribution With Automation

Learn how the NHL is using WSC Sports to increase fan engagement.
November 29, 2023

NASCAR Secures $7.7B Media Rights Deals

Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery come on as new partners.
disney wbd
November 29, 2023

Disney, WBD Chiefs Lament New Sports Media Challenges

Zaslav, Iger point to heightened complexity of their sports media operations.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts tosses the ball to fans after scoring a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.
November 29, 2023

The Philadelphia Eagles Continue To Be NFL’s Biggest Draw

Philadelphia was once again in one of the NFL's most-watched games.
Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum rushes in the second half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium.
November 29, 2023

Ohio State-Michigan Thriller Produces Record Viewership For Fox

It was the most-watched regular-season CFB game in Fox’s history.