ESPN+ launched on April 12, and right now the streaming service is offering a free one month trial to see if you like what they’re offering before you have to pony up the $5 a month for it.
Well I signed up to see what was being offered, and if it would indeed be worth $5 a month. One weekend in, here are my initial thoughts and reactions about the service.
If you’re a soccer fan, pay for this
Like I said in my first piece about this service where I speculated if it would be worth spending money on, soccer fans are the big winner. Every MLS game that isn’t on national TV is available to watch, as well as tons of other leagues. While making breakfast on Saturday and Sunday I was able to watch the English Championship, English League 1, and even USL games. If you live out of market for your favorite MLS team (or in-market for Chicago fans), or are just a soccer junkie who will watch any and all games, this is more than worth your $5 a month, and a must-purchase.
If you liked ESPN3, you’re screwed
One thing that was immediately apparent: if stuff you liked before was on available for free on ESPN3, such as niche college sports like baseball, softball, lacrosse and soccer, it has been moved over to ESPN+. Yes, there are increased offerings on ESPN+, for instance I saw my school’s women’s lacrosse game as an option one day, but all of this stuff used to be free on ESPN+, and now you have to pay for it. I’m not saying this was stuff I routinely watched and craved, but if I wanted to watch a college baseball game, it was nice to be able to watch for free rather than seeing it behind a pay-wall. Also moved over is stuff like Premier League Rugby, which seemed to have more games than ESPN3 did, but again, it was free. This will probably be more worth it (even though it again, used to be free) when college football and basketball start up in the fall, but for now, it’s kinda stupid that you’re paying to watch sports that used to be free, and that have a very limited audience to begin with.
They are offering original programming, but who knows who is watching
They’re trying to do stuff that goes beyond the screaming heads on ESPN2, ESPN, and SportsCenter, but I just can’t imagine how many people are watching. There’s other NBA analysis shows, and even an NHL show with Linda Cohn and Barry Melrose, but it all just feels like stuff to try to justify the price. If you’re a hardcore hockey fan, you’re not paying $5 a month for a show that’s on like twice a week, when you can just watch NHL Network, or go to any fan or local media sites for free. They also have the full 30 for 30 library available, which is fine and good, but that again isn’t worth $5 a month by itself.
It’s important to note that this is NOT ESPN proper like you get with cable. If you thought you were getting ESPN, ESPN2 and the shows and live sports that come with that in this package, you are wrong and not getting those things, and need cable or someone’s log-in to watch those.
The daily MLB game is different from the Game of the Day on MLB.com!
I would have bet my life that all the free MLB (and in the fall NHL) game of the day would have just been the same game that MLB was offering up free on its own site, but they were different each day! That’s a good thing, and if you pay for this service you can get two MLB games a day, provided they both don’t feature the team in your local market.
There are no streaming box apps…yet
If you have a Roku or other streaming box sets like FireTV or Apple TV, there’s no app yet, so in order to watch you’re limited to either your laptop screen, phone screen, or using a Chromecast to send it to the big TV. This will probably change in the near-future, but it’s weird you’d roll out a new app for sports and not make it easy to watch on your actual TV, where most people prefer to watch sports.
Overall, it’s fine, but feels like they’re bilking you
Again, the hardest thing with this is that 90% of the content that’s on ESPN+ used to be free on ESPN3, and now you have to pay for it. Yes, there is additional content that wasn’t on ESPN3, but for people who don’t care about those shows or documentaries and only want live sports, it’s a thing where you plug your nose, and just accept that it’s going to cost you $5 a month to watch stuff. But if you’re a soccer fan, this is a no-brainer and you should get this.