Many of us want to cut the cord to save money, but hesitate because we’re worried about losing access to live sports. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to watch sports without cable. One new way to do just that is a service from ESPN itself, dubbed ESPN+ (pronounced ‘ESPN Plus’). What is ESPN+, and how does it work?
We dive deep into the service to answer all of your questions and to tell you if it’s worth it. Find out in our ESPN+ review below.
What is ESPN+?
ESPN+ is a new streaming service from ESPN itself. It was launched in Spring 2018 and has already surpassed 1 million subscribers within the first 5 months. It’s a popular option, but most subscribers are using it to supplement other sources of live sports – rather than a way to replace cable altogether.
At its core, ESPN+ is an online subscription service for sports fans. It’s a completely standalone option – you don’t need cable or any other subscription in order to use it.
You can subscribe for $4.99 a month, with no contract. For that $5 a month, you get access to a limited selection of live sports broadcasts, plus an on-demand library of original programming. There are even some shows that are exclusive to ESPN+.
Before we move on in this ESPN+ review, let’s get one thing crystal clear: ESPN+ is NOT a way to watch ESPN online. Most of the major sports that ESPN channels broadcast will not be available on ESPN+.
ESPN is marketing ESPN+ as an additional service that sports fans should have, which will complement their existing cable or streaming service subscription. For most sports fans, the limited live coverage on ESPN+ will not be enough to keep up with your favorite teams.
How ESPN+ Works
ESPN+ works over the internet. All you need is a reliable internet connection, an ESPN+ subscription ($5/mo), and a compatible device. You don’t need to have cable or any other streaming services. You will probably want a streaming player, such as a Roku or Apple TV – but you can also use your computer or smartphone. Here are the basics:
- Sign up here for ESPN+. You’ll get a free 7-day trial
- Sign in to your account
- Start watching live & on-demand programming on your computer
- Sign into ESPN+ on your other devices
- Enjoy ESPN+ programming on all your connected devices
- You pay month-to-month at $4.99/mo. You can cancel at any time
That’s really all there is to it! You can access the ESPN+ online library at any time you want, from anywhere in the US. For live programming, you’ll obviously have to wait until the airtime. That said, you can also catch full game replays on-demand for certain games.
What Live Sports are on ESPN+?
Here’s what most people are looking for in an ESPN+ review: details of what sports can actually be streamed on the service. Here you go:
Note: Keep in mind that all coverage is subject to blackouts in some cases. Blackouts mostly apply to in-market scheduled programming. In simple English, this means you usually can’t watch your local teams’ games on ESPN+.
Soccer broadcasts are covered live for select matches in the following leagues: MLS, Serie A, EFL and UEFA Nations League. Soccer is one of the most-covered sports on ESPN+, and is particularly valuable for MLS fans. ESPN+ absorbed the out-of-market streaming rights that used to belong to MLS Live, and is now the exclusive home of out-of-market matches for the league. In all, ESPN+ is a great way to watch soccer online.
College Sports broadcasts are covered, but mostly only for less-popular conference teams. You can watch select games covering college football, lacrosse, basketball and more.
Baseball broadcasts are covered for approximately 1 out-of-market MLB game per day during the season, so this is a decent way to watch baseball online without cable.
The UFC recently signed a deal with ESPN, and that means there will be many exclusive Fight Night events on ESPN+ in 2019 and beyond. This is also now the home of all UFC Pay-Per-Views.
You’ll find right away that most of the big 3 US sports leagues are NOT covered on ESPN+. You won’t find NFL (regular season nor NFL Playoffs) and NBA games, and MLB coverage is a little limited.
That said, some fans have it better than others. Soccer fans, for instance, can get a lot of value out of MLS, UEFA and other international leagues. Some college fans may also be surprised at how much is on offer.
Overall, though, live coverage on ESPN+ has room for improvement, but we’re confident the network will secure more deals to expand its coverage. As we said before, it’s unlikely that this service will be adequate as your only source of sports. But it can be a good supplement to other options.
What is ESPN+ bringing to the table in terms of features?
- Original programming, like 30 for 30, O.J.: Made in America and more.
- Exclusive programming, like Draft Academy, ESPN FC and more
- (Limited) live sports, including baseball, soccer, basketball and more
- Global sports, from many foreign leagues like FIBA, UEFA, EFL and more
- Viewing on-the-go, with the ability to watch on mobile devices from anywhere in the USA
- Game replays of select games after they air, plus the ability to pause and rewind live games
- Broad device compatibility. ESPN+ works on Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Fire TV devices, iOS and Android devices, PS4, Xbox One and Roku smart TVs
ESPN+ costs a flat $4.99 per month, with no contract.
There is only one package available, so the ESPN+ price is quite straightforward.
And again, you do not need cable or any other subscriptions in order to use ESPN+. All you need is an internet connection.
ESPN+ Pros & Cons
For a summary of our ESPN+ review, let’s do a brief pros and cons list.
- Very affordable
- Watch select sporting events LIVE, without cable
- Exclusive access to some original programming
- Access to on-demand streaming of popular ESPN shows, like 30 for 30
- Ability to pause & rewind live broadcasts
- Ability to watch sports from anywhere in the US, on your mobile devices
- Access to hard-to-find global leagues like UEFA and CFL
- Limited coverage of some sports
- Most popular sports are not covered at all – no NBA, NFL, etc.
- Local teams blacked out
- Most big college teams not covered
Overall, ESPN+ is a decent service that’s best for fans of certain sports, like soccer and rugby. Third party ESPN+ reviews are mostly positive, but people tend to always list the significant downsides of a lack of access to popular teams.
Local blackouts are a big issue, as well. If you’re hoping to watch your favorite local teams on ESPN+, you’re probably out of luck.
That said, the service does still offer a lot of value, particularly considering its low price.
Is ESPN+ Worth It?
The bottom line, is ESPN+ worth it? We think it is, but only if you’re clear on what you’re signing up for.
This is NOT a full-fledged sports streaming experience. It is not sufficient to replace cable or streaming service subscriptions, at least not for most sports fans.
With that said, it does offer a lot of unique sports and league that are tough to find elsewhere. Fans of less-popular sports like rugby, lacrosse, cricket, etc. will find a lot of value in ESPN+. It’s also a great option for soccer fans.
Considering that it only costs $5 a month, we think ESPN+ is well worth it. Click here to learn more.
Do you have questions about our ESPN+ review? Or do you want to share your own experience with the service? Leave a comment below!