ESPN will be moving select features and analysis behind the ESPN+ paywall, according to New York Post reporter Andrew Marchand. The move comes 10 days after Disney announced a company-wide content restructuring that will “accelerate the transition to a real direct-to-consumer priority company.” The company said it would be utilizing a “newly centralized global distribution team” that would be in charge of moving content through the proper company channels.
It appears that moving ESPN features and analysis behind the ESPN+ paywall is part of that change. The Post reports “breaking news and investigative pieces will remain outside the paywall.” The company is expected to announce the changes Thursday.
Part of the changes will include studio television programs The Dan Le Batard with Stugotz, Greeny, Chiney & Golic Jr. and The Max Kellerman Show moving to ESPN+ beginning Monday, November 9.
Analysis and feature writers Zach Lowe and Bill Barnwell will now be paywalled, as well as: Malika Andrews, Kevin Arnovitz, Stephania Bell, Matthew Berry, Michael Collins, Bill Connelly, Heather Dinich, Kirk Goldsberry, Alden Gonzalez, Dan Graziano, Baxter Holmes, Jackie MacMullan, Jeff Passan, Dave Schoenfield, Kevin Seifert, Ramona Shelburne, Andre Snellings, Wright Thompson, Seth Wickersham, Brian Windhorst, and Greg Wyshynski.
“These moves bring additional personality, insight and entertainment to ESPN+ every day, while cementing a daily studio lineup and building a deeper, broader collection of written work that makes fans smarter,” ESPN said in a press release. “The combination of talented, trusted ESPN voices and unmatched insider expertise, alongside the entire 30 for 30 library and groundbreaking originals that feature some of the biggest names in sports, means ESPN+ is offering subscribers a collection of premium video and written content they cannot find anywhere else.”
ESPN+ currently costs $5.99 per month or $49.99 with a yearly plan. ESPN+ can also be bundled with Disney+ and Hulu for $12.99. As of June, there were 8.5 million ESPN+ subscribers.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer said last week that he believes the Disney restructuring signals the company’s desire to get rid of ESPN. “There is a belief we’re saturated in sports,” Cramer said. “That ESPN is no longer integral.”
“ESPN used to be this unbelievable thing, and now it’s just a really expensive thing they are having trouble monetizing. ESPN is no longer the precious place that it once was.”