The last domino has begun to fall.
According to a new report from The Information, ESPN is preparing to launch its own a la carte streaming TV package that won’t require a cable subscription. The network has long resisted this separation from the cable bundle, but it appears that after losing millions of subscribers to cord cutting over the past few years, ESPN has no choice but to jump on the bandwagon.
Before you get too excited, The Information’s sources say that this move will be a “baby step” for the network, as ESPN doesn’t plan to offer “high-value content,” like NFL or NBA games, in the initial package. Rather, a person close to the matter says that niche leagues and possibly college sports will be featured.
In other words, this isn’t exactly ESPN’s take on HBO NOW.
What it is, though, is a sign that cord cutting is finally an unavoidable truth for cable companies and their partners. ESPN has been on the forefront of streaming for years with its expansive WatchESPN service, but to this day, you still need a cable subscription in order to watch your favorite sports team play.
Considering how strong of a relationship ESPN still has with cable companies (and considering how lost they’d be without the network), don’t expect to see ESPN NOW any time soon. But the important thing is that the boulder has started rolling down the mountain, which means it’s only a matter of time.