Beginning next month, the cost of a monthly subscription to ESPN Plus will jump from $5.99 to $6.99, while an annual subscription will now run you $69.99, up from $59.99. At the tail end of 2020, for reference, an annual subscription to ESPN Plus was just $49.99, which means that the price of the service has climbed $20 in less than a year.
ESPN Plus is one of three different subscription streaming services Disney operates in the U.S, alongside Disney+ and Hulu. When combined, the three services are usually packaged as what’s known as the Disney bundle, a subscription deal that costs $13.99 per month, or 30% less than the cost of individual subscriptions to each of the three services (notably, the monthly cost of that bundle subscription will not change).
In a move that foreshadowed the coming price hike, Disney recently announced some new sports rights maneuvers that would unlock a revamped slate of archival footage to be made available exclusively on ESPN’s streaming platform, including 75 NHL games and live-streaming rights to the Wimbledon tennis tournament that would feature full replays for all matches. According to Variety, the All-England Lawn Tennis Club has also agreed to relinquish the rights to certain films, classic matches and highlight reels, and a separate deal would also make ESPN Plus the exclusive destination for anyone wanting to watch the PGA Tour Live beginning next season.
The decision to hike the price of ESPN Plus seems designed to incentivize subscribers to just cough up for the bundle subscription already in a move that would see Disney translate one already considerable subscriber base into two others. Last April, Disney announced that ESPN Plus alone had just under 14 million subscribers — a number the company is surely eager to spread out into Disney+ and Hulu’s streaming numbers.