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Is ESPN+ the streaming service of your hoop dreams? Sorry, cord-cutting ball fans, but the emphasis of ESPN+ is on the “+” part. It’s more of a robust addition to, but not a replacement for, ESPN.
That said, ESPN+ does give fans of soccer, golf, boxing, MMA, and college sports—and, to a lesser extent, baseball and hockey—a whole lot of live action for six bucks. And that’s not even mentioning access to ESPN’s award-winning original shows and films.
Just don’t expect any NFL or NBA games. Or . . . brace yourself . . . SportsCenter.
ESPN+ can get even cheaper than $5.99 a month: by subscribing for a full year at $49.99, you’ll save $21.89 annually over the month-by-month rate.
Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
The $5.99-a-month ESPN+ price tag is already pretty sweet, but if you pay for a whole year upfront, it gets a little sweeter. Sign on for 12 months, and the cost is $49.99, a savings of $21.89 overall.
That’s a whole lot of monthly sports content for less than the cost of a Bud Light cold case, even considering the NFL and NBA voids.
For sports geeks who want to dig in further than just live events, ESPN+’s rich on-demand archives would make a solid case for being the “Netflix for sports”—if rival streamer fuboTV hadn’t already coined the term.
The entirety of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series can be found here, in addition to the E:60 sports-mag show, and ESPN films like the Oscar-winning O.J.: Made in America.
What you won’t find: ESPN staples like SportsCenter, Around the Horn, or Pardon the Interruption (though clips are available for each). Also, no Monday Night Football or NBA Friday.
ESPN+ doesn’t feature just ESPN leftovers—like every other upstart platform, ESPN+ also produces original streaming content. These shows are on-brand and on-par with the cable network, meaning there’s no experimental programming like Ghost Hunting with Dan Patrick.
The ESPN+ subscription gives you access to thousands of live college games (ESPN+ streamed 100 college football games during the 2018-19 season alone), as well as live boxing, MMA, golf, tennis, cricket, lacrosse, and rugby.
You’ll also get one daily MLB and NHL regular-season game apiece through ESPN+. Soccer fans, however, are the big winners here, with live access to the entire out-of-market MLS season—cue the vuvuzelas!
Oh, and regional blackouts on certain local MLB and NHL games apply to ESPN+ just as they do to ESPN proper. Steee-rike!
Cord-cutters do have other options to access live NFL and NBA events, though. Several streaming services, like Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV, include partial or full ESPN channel packages as part of their plans.
ESPN+ doesn’t carry any local channels—but an over-the-air antenna from Amazon is a cheap and easy solution. You’ll even get some more live sports through ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC that way.
Like most streaming services, ESPN+ offers a seven-day free trial to take it for a spin before committing. It also offers a couple of add-on packages for even more content—specifically, baseball and hockey.
Also, the mixed martial arts giant Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has negotiated a five-year deal with ESPN+ to stream several pay-per-view matches at an additional $60 per event.
If ESPN+ doesn’t give you everything you want, try pairing it with another streaming service to fill in the blanks—you’ll probably still save money over a cable or satellite subscription.
ESPN+ doesn’t offer cloud DVR service for its live programming. You’ll have to catch the game as it happens or through an on-demand “replay” later.
ESPN+ allows up to five—count ‘em, five—simultaneous streams. That’s more streams than almost every other streaming service, which is great news if your household is full of sports fans.
Just make sure your internet connection can keep up: As with any other streaming service, the amount of buffering and pixelation you’ll experience with ESPN+ depends mostly on your internet connection.
Currently, there’s no dedicated ESPN+ app; the service resides within the ESPN app and at ESPN.com. Just look for the gold “E+” tab.
You can purchase an ESPN+ subscription through either the app or the website. After that, you’ll be prompted to create a new account or log in with an already established ESPN account.
The ESPN app is available on these devices:
ESPN+ streams in 720p HD at 60 frames per second, which is the tech way of saying the HD looks as sharp as Netflix, Hulu, and most upper-tier streaming services. If your local sports bar switched from satellite ESPN to streaming ESPN+ between hot wing orders, you probably wouldn’t notice the picture difference.
Audio-wise, ESPN+ streams in standard 2.0 stereo. Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo, like 4K Ultra HD video, isn’t yet available—not even those mountains of Disney money can make it happen overnight.
ESPN+ seems lacking due to the absence of NFL and NBA games, but for the hardcore sports nut, there’s a deep bench of programming that could complement the regular ESPN experience.
Soccer and college sports fans would especially be wise to check out ESPN+ before Disney realizes how much action it’s giving away for a dirt-cheap $5.99 a month.
Yes, UFC fights are available through pay-per-view on ESPN+.
Yes, ESPN+ does have live college basketball games. But remember that only certain conferences are aired on the livestreaming service, such as Conference USA, the Ivy League, and some Big 12 games.