Plenty of TV networks have yet to make significant offerings for cord-cutters, but ESPN has been on the forefront of the movement. In a recent interview, network president John Skipper shared some details on what the future holds for ESPN and Internet TV.
It was reported late last year that Apple had put its plans for a streaming Internet TV service — initially meant to accompany its latest Apple TV — on hold. Skipper says that ESPN is still working with Apple. “We have ongoing conversations. They have been frustrated by their ability to construct something which works for them with programmers. We continue to try to work with them.”
Whether or not Apple launches its planned streaming service, ESPN wants to offer its programming to Apple TV users. “They are creating a significantly advantageous operating system and a great television experience and that television experience is fabulous for sports. We are big proponents of believing it would be a fabulous place to sell some subscriptions,” Skipper told The Wall Street Journal.
ESPN is a big believer in streaming TV services based on the results the company has had so far. “We think that it can be a significant mover in helping us navigate the next few years. We see the Sling TV numbers, which are significant,” Skipper said.
While Sling TV started out slow, it’s gaining traction. Goldman Sachs recently said it estimates the service could have 2 million subscribers by the end of the year.
It’s very likely that ESPN channels are a big part of why Sling TV worked in the first place, and it seems that it has worked for the network as well. Despite initial concerns that a streaming offering could cannibalize its own traditional TV subscriptions, it seems Sling TV has instead helped ESPN find new customers outside of the cable paradigm. Skipper says that ESPN is “highly satisfied that the overwhelming majority of Sling TV subscribers are new entrants.”