Early Reviews of ESPN+: Cool App, But Where Are the Video Games?

(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co. introduced its new ESPN+ subscription sports streaming service Thursday, and the reviews so far have focused on the technology and the programming choices.

The $5-a-month service will feature over 10,000 live events annually, including daily soccer and baseball games, niche sports such as lacrosse, and lesser-watched college conferences including the Ivy League. It’s a big part of Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger’s efforts to create a direct-to-consumer business around Disney’s massive trove of content.

AwfulAnnouncing, a website which covers TV sports, liked the feel and flow of the app, and the 30-day free trial. The reviewer also liked that the service recommends content, although not all of what was flagged was on ESPN+, “so that’s a con.”

Tech website Engadget said ESPN programmers should have included professional video-game competition, noting they are “missing a huge opportunity by not including any esports content. Especially considering that’s something the young viewers it seeks love deeply.”

Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG LLC and a frequent Disney critic, said in an interview he didn’t think if made sense for ESPN to put quality content like its award-winning “30 for 30” documentary series exclusively on the new streaming services while loading the rest of it with largely second-tier content.

“If ESPN is serious, they need to go for it and put all of their best content,” Greenfield said. “This is trying to have your cake and eat it too, rather than going all in.”

James Miller, who wrote an oral history about ESPN, called the service, “Not just a next generation app, but rather a large bet on company’s digital future. How many will pay for service, and what will be caliber of unique offerings should in large part determine its level of success,” he said on Twitter.

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