ESPN Streaming Service an Upsell for Existing Pay TV Customers

3 things to watch as Disney reports first-quarter earnings

ESPN's new streaming service is coming to your phone this spring.

"We're trying to surround the fan with everything they could possibly want", LaBerge said in an interview last month. The company plans to introduce a Netflix-esque movies-and-entertainment product in late 2019.

And via ESPN Plus, users will have access to "an array of live programming that is not available... on the current channels, and that's by the thousands". The streaming plan will also give viewers access to an on-demand library of ESPN titles.

If the acquisition is approved, Disney will get Fox's movie studios, networks Nat Geo and FX, Star TV, and stakes in Hulu, Sky and Endemol Shine Group, as well as regional sports networks.

The second major feature of the app is live streaming of the regular ESPN networks, such as ESPN and ESPN2.

Walt Disney Co DIS.N on Tuesday reported a quarterly profit that topped Wall Street forecasts as theme park crowds packed a new "Avatar" land, making up for a decline at the ABC broadcasting network. Segment operating income increased by 21% to U.S. $1.3 billion on the strength of increases at the company's domestic parks and resorts, cruise line and vacation club businesses, as well as at Disneyland Paris.

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"The strategic investments we've made have driven meaningful growth over the long term, and we remain confident in our ability to continue to deliver significant shareholder value", said CEO Robert Iger. "If anything points to what the future of ESPN looks like, it will be this".

CEO Bob Iger told CNBC on Tuesday he's "encouraged" about the prospects for regulatory approval of the company's mega-deal with.

Iger said the personalized app powered by BAMTech would come "with a more user-friendly mobile interface" in providing scores, highlights, stories and podcasts.

It seems that Disney is marketing ESPN Plus as an additional subscription on top of traditional packages.

ESPN has struggled over the previous year as it loses subscribers at a rapid pace, based mostly on the continuation of the cord-cutting revolution. And while the network has lost approximately 12 percent of its sub base since February 2013, its steadily-increasing affiliate fees help make up for the shrinkage of its linear footprint. Excluding those games, ESPN ad revenue was still down 7%. This also fell short of our estimates for the category, which called for sales of $6.35 billion.

On the studio side, revenue dropped by 1% and operating income decreased by 2% due to slower home video sales of Cars 3, compared to the previous year's Finding Dory.

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