It took a while, but ESPN (s DIS) is finally ramping up availability of its TV Everywhere offering across multiple service providers. With today’s announcement that the cable network extended its carriage agreement with Verizon (s VZ), FiOS subscribers will soon be able to watch ESPN live on their PCs and other connected devices.
According to the press release, the deal will give ESPN subscribers on FiOS access to live and on-demand authenticated video content online from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater. That content will soon be available both on ESPN’s websites, as well as on Verizon’s own FiOS TV Online website.
With today’s deal, Verizon becomes the second pay TV provider to strike a deal to make ESPN content available outside of its usual cable service. Last month, Time Warner Cable (s TWC) reached a new agreement after months of intense negotiations that included the introduction of ESPN’s first authenticated TV Everywhere service.
ESPN stood on the sidelines — no pun intended — while other cable networks, most notably those from Time Warner (s TWX), rolled out authenticated services with distribution partners like Comcast, (s CMCSA) Time Warner Cable and Verizon. But now it is making a big push behind TV Everywhere — and unlike some cable networks, it’s not just making archived on-demand content available through its authenticated service, but rolling out live video. The availability of live content will be crucial for ESPN, which relies on live sporting events and sports news to drive viewership.
Considering that the TV Everywhere services are being rolled out as part of new and extended carriage agreements with service providers, it wouldn’t be surprising for ESPN to use its market leverage and new online services as a way to provide a value-add and drive even higher per-subscriber fees for its content.
For pay TV providers, making ESPN available through TV Everywhere services will be necessary in keeping subscribers interested. Live sports is frequently cited as the number one reason that subscribers stick with pay TV services as opposed to cutting the cord. Making that content also available on more platforms might help keep subscribers locked into their cable subscriptions just a little bit longer.
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