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What is ESPN Plus? Is it worth it? Everything you need to know
If you’re an avid sports fan, odds are you’re more than familiar with ESPN programming. The multinational sports network is found in millions of homes around the world, and now the company is jumping feet first into the digital age with the streaming service ESPN Plus.
However, the streaming service is far from a replacement for existing ESPN channels on your cable subscription. It’s more of a supplement to what those channels already offer, with a host of exclusive content and features for sports fanatics.
So what is ESPN Plus and is it worth your subscription? Keep reading for everything you need to know or hit the button below to take advantage of the incredible value of the Disney Plus-Hulu-ESPN Plus subscription at $13.99/mo. You can also get a digital gift card for the service.
What is ESPN Plus?
ESPN Plus (branded as ESPN+) is a streaming service from the sports network ESPN. Launched in 2018, it was initially a home for ancillary content that didn’t fit on the main networks, but has since carved out its own niche in the sports world with unique offerings.
It differs slightly from other streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video because it offers both recorded and live content. All of this can be streamed from a variety of devices using the ESPN app or website.
As mentioned above, ESPN Plus is not a replacement for other ESPN channels or subscriptions, but instead intends to complement them with access to VODs, stats, highlights, analysis, and more.
Although not all sports are featured heavily on the service, it’s a particularly great place for fans of soccer and UFC.
How does ESPN Plus work?
Just like other streaming services, all you need to do is boot up the ESPN app on any supported device (or open the ESPN website) and choose the content you want to watch. If you’re tuning into live broadcast content you have the option to start your stream at the beginning of the broadcast, as well.
Both the ESPN website and app interfaces make it easy to find something to watch. The first row has all current live matches, and subsequent rows have top picks and other content. You can also use the menu to further break things down or access stats and analytics.
Data requirements and usage
ESPN lists a minimum connection requirement of 2Mbps on its website, but you will likely want a faster connection for consistently good streaming quality. At these speeds, you may be subject to stuttering and buffering pauses that take you out of the experience. Most content is streamed at 60fps, which puts an even higher strain on your internet connection.
Other streaming services like Netflix require more than twice as fast a connection for HD streaming. There are no official numbers on data consumption either, but you can expect to use around 3GB of data per hour streamed based on other streaming platforms’ usage rates.
Is ESPN Plus worth it?
Whether or not ESPN Plus is worth it for you depends on just how much of a sports fan you are. At $9.99 a month, it’s no longer the cheap service it once was, but hardcore sports fans will likely still want to access it. You can save a ton of money if you get it with the Disney Plus-Hulu-ESPN Plus bundle, which costs just $13.99 a month. You can also save some cash by going the annual route, at $99.99 per year
Normally, you won’t find any NFL games on the platform, and not every MLB or NBA game can be streamed either. However, the service is one of the best places to watch other sports like boxing and soccer, with leagues from around the globe signing deals to stream games on the service.
Perhaps the biggest pickup is UFC, which has an exclusive streaming partnership with ESPN Plus. It’s the only place to watch official UFC pay-per-view events. You will have to pay an extra fee to stream them, but you won’t be able to find them anywhere else.
It’s also a great choice for people with other subscriptions like MLB.tv or NHL.tv, which tie directly into the service with out-of-market games and stats. There are also many original analysis shows and documentary series on the platform, including the prestigious 30-for-30 series.
If you are an NFL fan and have to be able to watch every game in the upcoming 2022 season, you will have to sign up for ESPN Plus. The service will livestream its first NFL game on October 30. This will be one of the league’s international games. It will be played in London’s Wembley Stadium as the Denver Broncos play the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Where is ESPN Plus available?
At the time of writing, ESPN Plus is available exclusively in the United States. Internationally, some ESPN games and shows can be streamed via an ESPN Player subscription.
You may also be able to access the service with a VPN service, although this isn’t officially supported.
How much is ESPN Plus?
For fans of UFC, you can also save money by getting a yearly subscription bundled with UFC’s Pay-Per-View programming. It costs $124.98 for the first year and $99.99 for each year afterward.
If you’re looking for value, the Disney Plus-Hulu-ESPN Plus bundle is the best deal. For just $13.99 a month, you gain access to all three services: Disney Plus, Hulu (with ads), and ESPN Plus. If you want to save some money during the off-season, all monthly plans can be canceled at any time with no extra fees.
If you already subscribe to Hulu, you can include ESPN Plus as an add-on to that service for the same price of $9.99 a month. However, we would not recommend that you do that for two reasons. One is that the Disney Plus-Hulu-ESPN Plus bundle is the better overall deal. The second is that watching ESPN Plus content on Hulu does not allow you to access the UFC live pay-per-view content.
Can I get ESPN Plus for free?
The service currently does not offer a free trial. However, you can also share your account with other users, as it supports up to three simultaneous streams.
Does it have ads?
ESPN Plus does feature ads on live content, just like you would see if you were watching it on TV. The service has also recently started airing pre-roll ads before certain content starts, which has frustrated some paying subscribers.
How do I get ESPN Plus?
What devices does ESPN Plus support?
ESPN Plus supports a wide variety of devices, so you should be able to stream on just about any screen in your house. Both iOS devices (iOS 11.0 or higher) and Android devices (Android 5.0 or higher) can access the service with ease via the ESPN app, with the ability to cast streams onto a Chromecast.
The streaming service also supports nearly all browsers on the market, including Chrome on Android and Safari on iOS. Many smart TVs, set-top boxes, and game consoles are supported as well.
Read also: The best media streaming devices you can buy
Here is the full list of ESPN Plus supported devices:
- Android (5.0 or higher)
- iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (iOS 11.0 or higher)
- Web browsers
- Apple TV (3rd gen or newer)
- Amazon Fire TV
- Roku (most models)
- Xbox One/Series X/S (all models)
- PlayStation 4/5 (all models)
- Samsung Tizen TVs
- Android TV devices (Sharp, Sony, etc.)
- Oculus Go VR headset
- Comcast Xfinity Flex, Xfinity X1
What do you get with ESPN Plus?
ESPN Plus is home to all kinds of great content for sports fans, and some of it is exclusive to the platform. As mentioned above, it does not replace standard programming from other ESPN channels, so you won’t find any NFL games or most MLB or NBA games.
However, you will find major tennis events such as the Grand Slam, US Open, and Australian Open, as well as many golf, rugby, cricket, and boxing events. Many college sports like football and basketball can also be streamed on ESPN Plus.
ESPN Plus is best for fans of soccer and UFC
By far the most well-represented sport on the platform is soccer. ESPN Plus is home to La Liga, Liga MX, Carabao Cup, Major League Soccer, United States Soccer League, English Football League, the Bundesliga, the FA Cup, and more. There truly is no better option for fans of soccer in the United States.
As mentioned earlier, ESPN Plus is also the best platform for UFC fans. It has exclusive streaming rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events, which are some of the biggest matches around. You will have to pay extra for them, however. You can buy each event individually or buy an annual pass for $89.98.
To sweeten the pot even further, you can also watch tons of great original programming, from talk shows to documentaries like the entire 30 for 30 series, Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance, Man In The Arena: Tom Brady, and, most recently, the Derek Jeter limited series The Captain. It’s the perfect way to get your sports fill when there aren’t any live games in the off-season.
ESPN Plus alternatives
For those in the United States looking to watch sports content, ESPN Plus doesn’t have many true competitors. While there are some other options for streaming live sports games, these are more of an alternative to regular ESPN programming, rather than the online streaming service.
If that’s what you’re looking for, we’ve listed a few of your best options below.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV is one of the best streaming services out there, allowing access to both an extensive streaming library and live TV channels. Those channels include several ESPN stations, so you can watch live sports without a cable subscription.
Another potential alternative to a standard cable subscription is YouTube TV. It has an even better selection of sports channels, including the ESPN channels, and the best DVR support of any streaming service anywhere. You get unlimited storage that lasts for up to nine months before it’s deleted.
YouTube TV runs $64.99 a month, with the option to get add-ons like the NBA League Pass or FOX Soccer Plus, so you never miss a game.
For the soccer fans out there, the best alternative to the great soccer streaming content on ESPN is FuboTV. It includes a variety of national sports channels, but its real strength is international soccer. You can catch European and South American leagues as they’re played, with the option of watching in Spanish for an even more authentic experience.
FuboTV recently added ESPN channels, which makes it a bigger competitor for covering major national sports. The cheapest plan costs $69.99 a month, and there are more expensive plans with additional channels that cost up to $99.99 per month.
No, the service is not currently offered outside of the United States.
You can stream ESPN Plus on three devices simultaneously.
The service will not include most live NFL games, but there is an exclusive digital version of NFL Prime Time available to stream on the platform. There will be one live NFL game on the service in the 2022 season, on October 30.
The Super Bowl is not included with an ESPN Plus subscription, but you can watch it from within the ESPN app if you enter your cable subscription details.
Monday Night Football is not included with an ESPN Plus subscription, but you can watch it from within the ESPN app if you enter your cable subscription details.
Yes, you can watch select live games on the service, including soccer, cricket, NHL, and more. You have the option to pick up right from the live broadcast or start from the beginning so you don’t miss a single play. Note that live games will feature ads.
Yes! It’s actually one of the best places to stream the NHL. It will stream over 1,000 games during the 2022-23 season.
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