ESPN+ was mentioned in Disney’s fiscal first-quarter earnings report, which was released Tuesday. Disney says the service, which launched last year now supports 2 million subscribers.
Bob Iger says that MMA and boxing will be a key part of ESPN+’s future. “We expect the expansion of combat sports content on the streaming service to drive continued growth in the months ahead,” he told analysts on an earnings call.
Last month ESPN claimed that 500,000 people signed up for new ESPN+ accounts ahead of the first UFC card to stream on the OTT service. That coincides with a promotion that offered a free month trial of ESPN+.
Whatever the truth of those new accounts are, 2 million subscribers and 500,000 new subscriptions surrounding a single event are impressive. As media consultant Patrick Crakes tweeted, “Heck, in the whole SVOD product universe – to include mega giant Netflix – there’s not many with 2M+ paying subs.”
Disney has another product on the horizon which could be used to promote ESPN+ subscriptions. Disney+, a new streaming VOD service featuring films from the entire Disney library plus new, original content, will launch later this year. Iger said he hopes to be able to offer customers a discount if they sign up for a single account to access ESPN+, Disney+ and Hulu, which the company owns a controlling interest in.
Vox Media Layoffs Hit SB Nation Hard
“Not only are many writers and podcasters out, Awful Announcing reports that SB Nation’s coverage of hockey and soccer have taken major hits.”
More layoffs hit Vox Media on Friday. The company laid off 7% of its workforce. That amounted to nearly 130 employees. A number of SB Nation employees took to social media to announce they were victims of the cuts.
Not only are many writers and podcasters out, but Awful Announcing also reports that SB Nation’s coverage of hockey and soccer has taken major hits. Entire team sites have been gutted and/or shut down.
The Twitter account for Massive Report, an SB Nation blog covering the Columbus Crew, reports that the site is no longer hosting any MLS team blogs.
Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media, told staffers that the publishing industry is facing a “challenging economic environment”. The cuts are being made to adjust to those realities.
Vox Media’s union addressed the layoffs in a tweet. The organization says it is “furious at the way the company has approached these layoffs, and are currently discussing how to best serve those who just lost their jobs.”
TikTok Testing Podcast Feature
“It also isn’t clear how podcasters would be able to take advantage of TikTok’s reach with their current shows.”
TikTok wants in on podcasting. According to Business Insider, the app is going about things very differently from competitors in the social media space.
Facebook and Twitter failed to gain traction by adding traditional podcasts to their platforms. TikTok is testing a feature that would allow users to experience content on the app as audio-only.
Video is at the core of TikTok’s appeal. It is hard to see how offering the content in an audio-only mode appeals to the average user. It also isn’t clear how podcasters would be able to take advantage of TikTok’s reach with their current shows.
Every iteration of media struggles with attracting a younger audience. If podcasters can crack the code, TikTok could be what opens up a whole new audience to them. While more than a third of Americans use TikTok, an Edison Research study found that 61% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 34 use the app regularly.
While many sports entities have relationships with TikTok, what they currently put on the app isn’t necessarily designed to be consumed as audio only. If TikTok podcasts catch on, it could open up a whole new world of content creation for sports brands.
Barstool Says Bussin With The Boys Podcast Banned From Radio Row
“According to rankings from Chartable, Bussin With The Boys is the 4th most-listened-to football podcast in the country.”
The long-running feud between Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continues and it sounds like Glendale, Arizona is becoming ground zero for their companies’ latest standoff.
According to a tweet and subsequent blog post from Portnoy, Bussin With The Boys — a podcast hosted by NFL players Taylor Lewan and Will Compton — has been barred from entering Radio Row during Super Bowl week.
In a tweet, Compton — who has previously claimed he was kept out of the league in 2022 because of his association with Barstool Sports — purported to show a message from an NFL official that claimed “We credential current players but if this person has a contract with Barstool then we won’t be able to accommodate”.
Portnoy has been removed — sometimes forcibly — from NFL events over the course of the past few seasons. Barstool Sports led a large protest at Gillette Stadium during the 2017 season opener after the “Deflategate” scandal. The company also manufactured 70,000 towels with an image of Goodell with a bright red ball nose to insinuate that he is a clown.
Goodell has previously claimed – under oath – that he is not aware of a ban of Portnoy, even though Portnoy and members of the Barstool Sports staff have been removed from league events and have even been arrested at league headquarters during a protest.
According to rankings from Chartable, Bussin With The Boys is the 4th most-listened-to football podcast in the country, trailing only Pardon My Take, New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce, and The Herd with Colin Cowherd. It is the ninth most popular sports podcast according to those same rankings.