Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) shares are on a nearly 6% vault this morning on the heels of revealing new access to Disney’s sports video streaming service ESPN+; all part of the new ESP channel on the tech player’s platform. In other words, Roku player and TV users suddenly will be able to unlock thousands more live events to on-demand content to original programming; none of which had been available before on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks.
For context, ESPN+ is a new service from Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International group, an alliance with ESPN that has enabled the world’s first multi-sport, direct-to-consumer premium subscription streaming service. When updating to the new ESPN channel, users on Roku devices in the U.S. now can gain access to ESPN+, which offers hundreds of MLB, NHL, and MLS games, Grand Slam tennis, Top Rank boxing, PGA Tour golf, college sports, international rugby, cricket, the full library of ESPN Films (which includes 30 for 30), among others. The service allows users to explore the option on a 7-day free trial, and should they get hooked, the subscription follows at $4.99 per month- or $49.99 per year.
“Roku customers have enjoyed the ESPN channel for years. The launch of ESPN+ marks an exciting moment for the OTT sports experience, giving consumers more sports content from their favorite pastimes than ever,” said Scott Rosenberg, General Manager of the Platform Business at Roku. “Roku customers that subscribe to ESPN+ will enjoy access to more live sports events, original shows and films, exclusive studio programs and ESPN’s unmatched on-demand library.”
With ESPN+, users can view thousands of games and events from professional leagues and international sports as well as college sports from nearly two dozen conferences across the country, including:
- MLB – A daily game, seven days per week, throughout the regular season, a total of more than 180 games that will include every MLB team.*
- NHL – Beginning with the 2018-19 season, a daily game throughout the regular season (in keeping with the NHL schedule), a total of more than 180 hockey games* — as well as on-demand replays of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- MLS – the entire MLS LIVE out-of-market schedule with more than 250 games* this season, as well as the local-market home for the Chicago Fire, exclusively bringing 23 Fire matches to fans in Chicago.
- College Sports – thousands of live events – including football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track & field, gymnastics, swimming & diving, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, golf and more – from 20 conferences across the country.
- Top Rank Boxing – Hundreds of live boxing matches, including 18 ESPN+ exclusive Top Rank fight cards throughout the year, all Top Rank on ESPN undercard fights, re-airs of all Top Rank on ESPN and Top Rank on ESPN PPV bouts, plus weigh-ins and more.
- PGA Tour Golf – 50 days of coverage from 20 PGA tour events, including the RBC Heritage, THE PLAYERS Championship, the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the FedExCup Playoffs and more.
- Grand Slam Tennis – Hundreds of men’s and women’s singles, doubles and other matches, from the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
- Cricket – Hundreds of Test, ODI and T20 format matches from New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Ireland.
- Rugby – Hundreds of matches from SANZAAR Rugby, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series, and Major League Rugby.
- Canadian Football League – Nearly 200 games from Canada’s professional league.
- English Football League – Approximately 200 total matches, including an average of four per week from Sky Bet Championship Playoffs, League 1 and League 2, plus six matches per month from the EFL Cup (beginning in August) and 16 matches per month throughout the EFL 2018-19 season.
- UEFA Nations League – Over 100 live matches from the newly created tournament. Pay TV customers with an ESPN+ subscription will be able to access the entire tournament including the 36 UNL matches on ESPN linear networks and ESPN3.
- United Soccer League – Approximately 450 USL matches this season.
ORIGINALS – Exclusive, original content developed specifically for ESPN+, including original documentaries, docu-series and more.
SHOWS – New and exclusive ESPN studio programming devoted to multiple sports and sports topics.
LIBRARY – An unmatched sports archive featuring thousands of hours of on-demand programs and past sporting events.
ESPN+ is available through the ESPN channel in the Roku Channel Store. It is accessible to anyone with a current-generation Roku device.
TipRanks indicates this digital streaming platform has magnetized caution mixed with optimism among Street-wide opinion. Out of 6 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 2 are bullish on ROKU stock, 3 remain sidelined, while 1 is bearish on the stock. With a solid return potential of 23%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $40.75, suggesting positivity is baked into these analysts’ expectations.