In 2018, ESPN launched ESPN+, a premium streaming subscription available on the ESPN app. ESPN+ is just one of many recent initiatives from cable providers to create online streaming services — and new advertising opportunities for brands looking to leverage the rise in streaming and connected tv (CTV) and related marketing opportunities.
In this article, we’ll explain what ESPN+ streaming is and how ads work on the ESPN mobile app.
What is ESPN+ Streaming?
ESPN+ is a subscription service from ESPN that offers users access to exclusive live events, original studio shows, and series that are not on the ESPN cable networks. Subscribers can also purchase access to UFC pay-per-view (PPC) events and an archive of on-demand content, including ESPN Films, game replays, and more.
An ESPN+ streaming subscription does not give viewers access to stream ESPN’s traditional TV networks. Those networks require a separate TV subscription.
In August 2018, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro announced:
“We are very interested in an ad-lite type of experience within ESPN+ where you have various forms of sponsorship integration. Fair to say you can expect to see that going forward.”
As of October 2019, ESPN+ began running pre-roll ads before videos. ESPN pre-roll ads feature a 6, 15, or 30-second clip that runs before the video content on ESPN+. Longer skippable videos are also supported for certain content.
ESPN+ streaming devices
ESPN+ content is available to stream in HD on ESPN.com and through the ESPN App on connected devices, including:
- Apple and Android smartphones
- Amazon Fire devices
- Samsung Smart TV
- PlayStation 4 and 5
- Xbox One and Series X
- Oculus Go
The ESPN App is free and doesn’t require a TV subscription or ESPN+ to access. Users with a TV subscription can stream ESPN networks through the app, or subscribe directly to ESPN+ for access to thousands of additional live events and on-demand content not available on the traditional ESPN networks.
ESPN+ streaming pricing
An ESPN+ subscription starts at $6.99/month or an ESPN+ Annual Plan of $69.99/year.
Subscribers can bundle ESPN+ with Disney+ and ad-supported Hulu for $13.99 per month.
The Disney Bundle: The Disney Bundle is available for $13.99/month and includes access to both Disney+ and Hulu (ad-supported), in addition to ESPN+.
PPV Package: ESPN+ subscribers have the option to purchase UFC PPV events, which are currently priced at $69.99/event.
ESPN+ streaming advertising on smartphones and tablets
The ESPN App for smartphones and tablets supports the Google Mobile Ads SDK. Ad types available on the ESPN smartphone app include the following.
Source: ESPN Media Kit
Banner: A standard leaderboard-style advertisement that appears throughout the app.
Collaboration Ad: A sponsored HTML5 card that fits within the app’s mobile interface. There are three options for this ad: article, video, and image.
Content Ad: A premium ad featuring advertiser branding with dynamic ESPN content. There are three different versions of this format: News & Notes, Video Content, and Local Integrator. These sponsored content ads include popular social share links to drive users.
In Content: A standard rectangular ad that appears throughout the app. These ads support HTML5.
Vertical Display: A full-screen unit that appears inline with app content.
Vertical Video and Vertical Video + Carousel: A premium ad featuring a “unique video experience.” These ads are built in-house by ESPN. When the ad is 50% in view on the mobile screen, a muted 6-second video begins, then loops three times. App users can unmute the ad to watch the entire 30-second video. In the Vertical Video + Carousel version, an interactive image carousel and description text accompany the video.
How to get started with ESPN+ streaming advertising
Tinuiti’s performance-first approach to OTT, Linear, Streaming TV, and Digital Audio can drive your audience to action. Be sure to check back as we add more information to this article and you can learn more about our Streaming+ services here.