ESPN+ has become one of the most popular sports streaming services since launching in 2018. With access to thousands of live games, original shows, and on-demand content, ESPN+ offers a robust package for sports fans. But with the recent price increase to $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, many are wondering – is ESPN+ worth the cost?
This in-depth review will examine everything ESPN+ has to offer, including features, pricing, content library, streaming quality, and more. We’ll provide a detailed analysis of the pros and cons to determine if ESPN+ is a smart investment for your sports viewing needs.
Outline of ESPN+ Review Article:
- Brief background on ESPN+
- Overview of streaming service features
- Live sports (NHL, MLB, LaLiga, Bundesliga, PGA Tour, Grand Slam tennis etc)
- Original shows and films
- On-demand library of events
- Access to ESPN articles/fantasy tools
- Multiple streams on different devices
Content Library Analysis
- Live sports offerings by league
- On-demand archive of events
- ESPN+ original programming
- Comparison to competitors’ content
- Video and audio quality
- Streaming reliability
- Device support and limitations
- Intuitive interface and navigation
- Account management and profiles
- Search and curation
- Personalization features
Pricing and Packages
- Monthly and annual plans
- Bundle options with Disney+ and Hulu
- Comparison to competitors’ pricing
Pros and Cons
- Benefits of ESPN+
- Downsides and limitations
Is ESPN+ Worth the Cost?
- Summary on value proposition
- Recommendation on best users for service
ESPN+ is a direct-to-consumer sports streaming service owned by Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution. It launched in April 2018 as part of the new ESPN app, providing fans access to thousands of live sports events, original programming, and an extensive on-demand library.
The service has quickly grown in popularity thanks to its coverage of leagues like the NHL, MLB, LaLiga, Bundesliga, PGA Tour, Grand Slam tennis, college sports, UFC, boxing, cricket and more. ESPN+ also produces original shows, films, and premium articles to enhance the experience.
ESPN recently increased the monthly subscription cost to $9.99 and annual cost to $99.99. With streaming competition growing fiercer, particularly for live sports rights, many fans are evaluating if ESPN+ still provides a good value.
This comprehensive review will analyze all aspects of ESPN+ to determine if it’s worth the higher monthly and yearly costs for sports fans today. We’ll compare features, streaming quality, content library, user experience and more against competitors like Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, Paramount+ and others.
By the end, you’ll have all the details to decide if ESPN+ is the right sports streaming choice for your viewing needs and budget.
Before diving into costs and content, let’s overview the main features that come with an ESPN+ subscription:
The primary appeal of ESPN+ is access to thousands of live sports events and games. This includes extensive coverage of leagues like:
- NHL – Out-of-market games, national exclusives, Stanley Cup Playoffs
- MLB – Daily out-of-market games, MLB Wild Card game, select Little League World Series games
- LaLiga – Select LaLiga soccer matches throughout regular season
- Bundesliga – Select Bundesliga soccer matches every season
- PGA Tour – PGA Tour Live simulcasts 4 days a week, Featured Groups and Featured Holes
- Grand Slam Tennis – Every court at all 4 Grand Slams
- College Sports – Hundreds of games across football, basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, volleyball, soccer, and more
- UFC – Select UFC Fight Nights and prelim fights
- International Cricket – Matches from New Zealand, West Indies, and Netherlands cricket
- Boxing & MMA – Top Rank boxing, PFL playoffs and regular season
In total, ESPN+ provided over 22,000 live events in 2021. The schedule includes a wide range of sports if you want to go beyond mainstream leagues.
Original Shows & Films
In addition to live sports, an ESPN+ subscription grants access to exclusive ESPN+ original programming. This includes both studio shows and docuseries covering the NFL, NBA, NHL, college football, combat sports and more.
Some popular ESPN+ originals include:
- Peyton’s Places – NFL legend Peyton Manning explores football history and culture
- Detail – NBA analysis show hosted by Kobe Bryant
- NFL PrimeTime – Weekly NFL highlights and breakdown show
- Dana White’s Contender Series – MMA prospect show
- SEC Storied – Documentaries on SEC sports legends
- 30 for 30 – Acclaimed sports documentary series
- Man in the Arena: Tom Brady – 9-part documentary on Tom Brady
There are typically over 100 new programs added to ESPN+ each month, providing hours of in-depth sports storytelling.
In addition to live coverage, ESPN+ grants access to an extensive on-demand library of archived games, events, shows and films. This allows you to watch highlights, classic moments and full replays on your schedule.
The on-demand collection includes thousands of hours across MLB, NHL, LaLiga, Bundesliga, college sports, 30 for 30 and more. There is also a dedicated “ESPN+ Picks” section curating the best highlights and events to watch.
Articles & Fantasy Tools
An ESPN+ subscription provides premium access to ESPN articles and fantasy sports tools that are otherwise behind a paywall. This includes in-depth analysis, predictions, projections and insights for upcoming games and events.
Subscribers can read ESPN+ premium articles ad-free. There are also advanced fantasy tools for drafts, trades, lineups and more.
Another useful ESPN+ feature is the ability to stream on multiple devices at the same time. Subscribers can watch different live events or shows concurrently across compatible phones, tablets, media players and web browsers.
This makes it easy for families and housemates to personalize viewing. You can have up to three simultaneous streams as part of the base subscription.
Content Library Analysis
Beyond the features, the biggest factor in determining ESPN+ value is the actual sports and entertainment content available. Let’s take a deeper look at what leagues, events and programming you get with a subscription:
Live Sports League Offerings
The live sports schedule on ESPN+ is extensive, with thousands of out-of-market games across many leagues and tours. Here’s a breakdown of major offerings:
- 1,000+ out-of-market games
- 75+ exclusive national games
- Every Stanley Cup Playoffs game
- 1+ out-of-market game daily
- MLB Wild Card game
- Select Little League World Series games
- Around 8 matches per match round
- 340+ matches per season
- 306+ matches live each season
- Goal Rush with simultaneous live look-ins
PGA Tour Live
- 4 days a week of live coverage
- Featured Groups with 4 concurrent feeds
- Featured Holes coverage
Grand Slam Tennis
- Every match and every court at all 4 Grand Slams
- Hundreds of live games across football, basketball, baseball, softball and more
- Select bowl games and NCAA Championships
Between the extensive pro league offerings and college sports coverage, fans have thousands of live sporting events at their fingertips every month. The out-of-market MLB and NHL games alone provide hours of daily programming.
On-Demand Content Library
In addition to the live sports catalog, the ESPN+ on-demand library allows you to watch replays, highlights and ESPN originals any time. Here’s a sampling of what’s available:
- Recent MLB, NHL, LaLiga and Bundesliga game replays
- 30 for 30 documentary series
- Hundreds of classic college football and basketball games
- Previous seasons of UFC Fight Nights and PPV prelims
- NFL PrimeTime – Weekly NFL highlights and analysis
- Hundreds of hours of original shows covering the UFC, boxing, hockey, football, and more
- Replays of recent PGA Tour, Grand Slam Tennis, and Little League World Series events
The on-demand collection has thousands of hours to browse, covering both live sports and original content. There is enough programming to satisfy any sports fan, from game replays to docuseries.
ESPN+ Original Programming
In terms of original shows and films, ESPN+ offers acclaimed docuseries, talk shows, and analysis programs covering every major sport:
- Peyton’s Places – NFL history with Peyton Manning
- NFL PrimeTime – Weekly highlights with Chris Berman
- Man in the Arena: Tom Brady
- Detail with Kobe Bryant – NBA analysis
- Stephen A’s World – NBA debate show
- NBA Rooks – Follow NBA rookies
- Quest for the Stanley Cup – Annual NHL playoff documentary
- SEC Storied – Documentaries on SEC legends
- My Story – College football stars reflective series
- The Bowden Dynasty – Bobby Bowden career retrospective
- Dana White’s Contender Series – MMA prospect show
- UFC Destined – Follow fighters before major bouts
- UFC Unleashed – Collection of memorable UFC fights
- LaLiga Icons – Documentaries on LaLiga greats
- America’s Caddie with Michael Collins – PGA Tour talk show
No matter your favorite sport, ESPN+ has you covered with exclusive commentary, analysis, documentaries and behind-the-scenes access. There are over 100 intriguing new original programs added each month.
Content Comparison to Other Streamers
Compared to competitors in the sports streaming space, ESPN+ stands out for its breadth and depth of content:
- Far more live sports coverage than Peacock and Paramount+
- Larger on-demand library than Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+
- More original shows than niche streamers like NBA League Pass
- Less expensive access to UFC and PGA Tour than their standalone apps
- Unrivaled college sports library compared to other services
Streamers like fuboTV offer similarly robust sports catalogs but at much higher price points, while lacking the originals library. Overall ESPN+ compares very favorably for the monthly cost.
In addition to content selection, streaming quality and reliability are crucial factors in assessing a service’s value. Here’s how ESPN+ stacks up:
Video and Audio Quality
ESPN+ streams in HD quality up to 1080p resolution at 60 FPS. Both video and audio quality are crisp, clear and consistent across events. Stream stability is also excellent with minimal buffering or lag issues.
Picture and sound hold up very well across devices. Given the monthly price point, it’s impressive streaming quality on par with far more expensive services.
In terms of reliability, ESPN+ earns strong marks with little downtime or technical errors experienced. Streams consistently launch at scheduled start times, while platform outages are extremely rare.
Considering the sheer volume of live sports available, ESPN+ infrastructure shows resilience even during peak hours. ESPN has clearly invested to meet streaming demand.
Users can access ESPN+ across a wide range of compatible devices:
- Smartphones & Tablets – iOS, Android, Windows Mobile
- Media Streaming Devices – Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast
- Game Consoles – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Web Browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge
Support for Chromecast and Airplay provides easy big screen viewing. There are also dedicated ESPN apps for popular devices.
The main limitation is no native app for Linux smart TVs like LG and Samsung. You can screen mirror with Airplay or Chromecast, but a native app would be preferable.
Overall ESPN+ earns top marks for streaming quality and device support. HD streams are smooth and consistent with great sound for the monthly price.
In addition to stream quality, the overall user experience on the platform makes a big difference in a service’s value. Here’s how ESPN+ stacks up:
Intuitive Interface and Navigation
The ESPN+ interface is clean, intuitive and easy to navigate across devices. Homepage menus neatly organize live events, original shows, sports leagues and on-demand content.
Profile avatars and watchlist features make it simple to customize your experience. Navigation flows well across web, mobile and TV apps.
Managing your ESPN+ account is straightforward with clear options to:
- Review subscription plan and billing details
- Add user profiles
- Adjust stream limit (up to 3)
- Link with ESPN Fantasy profile
- Redeem gift cards or promo codes
The account dashboard provides helpful stats like hours watched, top shows, and watchlist summaries. Switching between profiles is simple.
Search and Curation
Robust search and filters make finding content quick and easy:
- Search by sports league, event, team, or player
- Filter live events by sport or date range
- Browse curated sections like “ESPN+ Picks” and “Recommended for You”
- Save shows and events to your watchlist
Power users have plenty of options to customize and manage watchlists. Related titles and recommendations help casual users discover new content.
Useful personalization features include:
- Profiles – Separate watch history, watchlist and recommendations
- Notifications – Get alerts on upcoming events and new videos
- Favorites – One-click shortcut for accessing favorite leagues and teams
- Highlights – Create personalized highlight reels from games
The platform learns from your viewing habits to improve recommendations over time. Multiple user profile support is ideal for households.
Overall the ESPN+ experience is polished, intuitive, and highly customizable. Simple navigation paired with robust search and personalization provide an enjoyable viewing experience.
Pricing and Subscription Packages
One of the biggest factors in determining value comes down to ESPN+ pricing and how it compares to competitors:
Monthly and Annual Plans
There are now two main pricing tiers for new subscribers:
- $9.99 per month – Month-to-month plan, cancel anytime
- $99.99 per year – Annual plan, all paid upfront
The annual plan equates to saving $20 compared to going month-to-month. However, the monthly plan offers more flexibility if you only want ESPN+ temporarily.
ESPN+ can also be bundled with other streaming services:
- Disney Bundle – Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ for $13.99 per month
- Hulu + Live TV – Hulu on-demand, live channels, ESPN+ for $69.99+ per month
The Disney Bundle saves about $6 per month compared to individual plans. Hulu + Live TV provides a robust cable replacement package.
Competitor Pricing Comparison
Here’s how ESPN+ stacks up against other sports streaming options:
- Sling TV Orange (30+ channels) – $35 per month
- Hulu + Live TV (75+ channels) – $69.99 per month
- fuboTV Pro (124+ channels) – $69.99 per month
- NBA League Pass – $14.99-$49.99 per month
- NHL TV – $24.99-$144.99 per season
- Peacock Premium – $4.99 per month
For under $10 per month, ESPN+ provides excellent value compared to cable replacement services like Sling TV and live TV streamers. It also offers far more content and lower pricing than niche services focused on NBA or NHL.
The ad-free experience and extensive on-demand library give ESPN+ a significant edge over Peacock Premium. Overall, ESPN+ pricing remains competitive, especially if you bundle services.
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Pros and Cons of ESPN+
Let’s summarize the key advantages and disadvantages of an ESPN+ subscription:
- Affordable monthly price for 75+ live sports and thousands of hours on-demand
- Smooth HD streaming with 5.1 surround sound
- Intuitive interface across mobile, web, and TV apps
- Robust on-demand library with replays, ESPN Films, and originals
- Multiple account profiles with individual watchlists and recommendations
- Access to ESPN articles/tools otherwise behind paywall
- Discounts for annual plan and Disney/Hulu bundles
- No DVR or offline downloads
- Limited 4K and HDR support
- Restricted local & national MLB/NBA blackouts
- No native app for Samsung/LG smart TVs (can screen mirror)
- Occasional issues with AirPlay and Chromecast mirroring
Lack of DVR, sparse 4K content, and streaming restrictions during local blackouts are the main drawbacks. But overall ESPN+ still delivers strong value, especially if you want extensive live sports coverage.
Is ESPN+ Worth the Cost in 2023?
Given our comprehensive review across features, content, streaming quality and pricing – is ESPN+ ultimately worth the $9.99 monthly or $99.99 yearly cost in 2023?
ESPN+ Delivers Strong Overall Value
For passionate sports
fans who want access to thousands of live games, ESPN+ remains a very strong value even at the higher pricing in 2023.
Considering you get extensive coverage of top leagues like NHL, MLB, LaLiga, Bundesliga, and UFC for under $10 a month, ESPN+ offers tremendous value. The thousands of hours of high-quality on-demand programming add even more long-term utility.
While restrictions on local games and lack of DVR remain drawbacks, the breadth of content in the ESPN+ library is unmatched at this monthly price point. You would have to spend far more on cable packages or competitor streaming bundles to get similar access to must-have sports content.
The user experience is also polished across devices, with robust personalization and account features that compete well against other sports streamers. Recent upgrades have improved stability and quality too.
Unless you specifically need regional sports networks and more local team coverage, ESPN+ checks all the boxes for being a cost-effective way to stream a huge catalog of sports programming in 2023 and beyond.
Best Suited for Out-of-Market Fans
The fans who will get the most value out of ESPN+ are out-of-market supporters who want to follow national games across multiple sports or leagues.
With thousands of live MLB, NHL, soccer and college games, plus replays and highlights, it’s perfect for catching all the action. Original shows also provide great national-level analysis and commentary.
For local fans who need access to watch in-market teams, the blackout restrictions can be limiting. Services like fuboTV or DirecTV Stream maybe better suited for regional sports network access.
But if you have an all-around love of sports or support teams across different cities, ESPN+ offers a very affordable way to catch tons of live national coverage and stay engaged. The on-demand library allows you to enjoy analysis and documentaries during the offseasons too.
After conducting an extensive review across streaming quality, features, content library, user experience, and pricing – ESPN+ continues to offer strong value for sports fans in 2023.
The unrivaled breadth of live and on-demand sports coverage remains hugely appealing for under $10 a month. Smooth streaming, intuitive interface, and solid personalization further bolster the value proposition.
While some drawbacks exist around DVR, 4K support, and local blackouts, the sheer volume of top-tier sports programming available on ESPN+ makes it worthy of recommendation. Out-of-market fans or multi-league supporters will find the most value based on content and pricing.
Overall ESPN+ earns its reputation as an affordable sports streaming service with outstanding content. Even with the recent price increase, it remains competitively priced and delivers a fantastic viewing experience.