Under project 'Flagship,' ESPN preparing to move toward streaming service, per report

 ESPN is reportedly preparing to dramatically change how fans consume live sports.

An ESPN-specific subscription-based streaming service is in the works, according to the Wall Street Journal. ESPN would continue to offer its TV channels for cable subscribers, even after the debut of its stand-alone streaming service geared toward cable cord-cutters, the Wall Street Journal reported. There is no timetable for the launch of the ESPN streaming service, a project that has been internally code-named as "Flagship."

ESPN's current streaming service, ESPN+, which launched in 2018, streams MLB and NHL games, but does not include the high-value NFL and NBA games that are only available on TV.

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, ESPN collects more than $9 per cable bill. Comparatively, other cable networks average $0.49.

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Sports' shift to streaming

Sports streaming options continues to grow as tech companies and broadcast outlets see the value of live sports programming. Earlier this week, the NFL and NBCUniversal announced that Peacock will exclusively air the first-ever live-streaming playoff game, which will be during Wild Card Weekend. Peacock will also air its first exclusive NFL game during the regular season, as it will air the Week 16 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday, Dec. 23. Amazon's Prime Video will air the NFL's first Black Friday game, scheduled for Nov. 24 between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. During the 2022 season, the NFL shifted its "Thursday Night Football" games from linear TV on Fox Sports and NFL Network to stream on Amazon Prime.

MLB games also stream on Apple TV+ (Friday nights) and on Peacock (Sundays). Starting with the 2023 season, MLS and Apple TV+ launched a groundbreaking 10-year partnership that puts every game on the streaming service (select matches also air on linear TV on Fox Sports).

Contributing: Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY; Associated Press

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