The latest TV network looking to cater to TV viewers without cable is ESPN: The sportscaster is looking to launch a subscription service for cricket fans in time for the Cricket World Cup next February, according to a Recode report. Plans for the online service aren’t finalized yet, according to the report, but the move seems to be part of a bigger strategic shift towards online programming for the network.
Up until now, ESPN has only carried live sports events on its WatchESPN online service, which is only available to viewers that also have ESPN as part of their pay TV line-up. But in recent months, there has been talk that ESPN may make some live NFL content available to viewers that don’t subscribe to pay TV.
Cricket could be a good test case for ESPN’s online ambitions: Hardcore cricket fans have long looked online to watch games in real time. Some of this viewing has happened through dedicated piracy sites, but cricket-focused streaming service WillowTV has also been able sell online subscriptions to cricket tournaments for years.