You can watch live sports from a variety of leagues using ESPN+, and for a low cost. However, this service may not be for everyone. In this article, we’ll help you decide if ESPN’s standalone streaming service is right for you. Let’s get started!
What is ESPN+?
ESPN+ is an over-the-top streaming service owned and operated by ESPN, which itself is owned by Disney. The service launched in 2018, with most of its content rolled over from the ESPN3 streaming service (which required paid access to ESPN proper). ESPN+ also received the entirety of the lesser-known MLS Live streaming service.
The primary purpose of ESPN+ is to offer sports and events which ESPN maintains a right to broadcast, but which don’t appear on ESPN’s main cable TV network channels. For the most part, this includes fighting sports and international soccer. However, the service also includes a fair number of games from major US leagues, such as out-of-market MLB and MLS matches.
As such, if you’re a fan of fighting sports, international sporting events, and want access to some out-of-market US baseball and soccer games, ESPN+ may be a good option to consider.
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Coming in at just $4.99 per month, ESPN+ is ESPN’s standalone sports streaming service that offers sports you won’t find on ESPN’s regular channels. With content from a wide range of sports leagues, including UFC, MLB, MLS, NCAA and more, ESPN+ is a good option for sports fans who want as many options on the table as possible.
However, ESPN+ does not carry top-level sports from major leagues. Instead, you’ll receive a smattering of out-of-marketing games from a few top leagues, as well as events from international sports leagues not commonly broadcast in the US. As such, ESPN+ is primarily for sports fans who either love fighting sports or want access to games and other sporting events not shown on other popular TV sports networks.
Sports fans may or may not find value in ESPN+. It all depends on what kind of sports you’re interested in.
- It’s cheap. The service costs just $4.99 per month, which is hard to beat. At that price, it also offers far more sports than competing service DAZN, which now costs $19.99 per month in the US.
- Good library of content. ESPN owns the rights to a lot of content, meaning there’s always something to watch, either live or on-demand.
- Offers original content. Sports fans who enjoy behind-the-scenes action and different perspectives have a few original shows to choose from.
- Can be used on mobile apps and streaming devices. Most devices you want to use have an app ready for download.
- Allows for 3 simultaneous streams. You can stream on up to 3 devices at a time with this service, making it a good option for sports-loving families.
- Few major sporting events. This is not a good option if you want major events or big games from top leagues like the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL.
- It can be glitchy. We found there were times the service simply would not load any videos, even on-demand.
- Confusing interface. Don’t plan on using this service on a web browser. The interface is messy and confusing and the service doesn’t even have its own, separate website.
- No dedicated app. Although you can access the service through the ESPN app, it doesn’t have an app of its own.
- The app is restrictive. ESPN requires location services on your mobile devices to verify location, and even disables your screenshot function on your phone.
Perhaps one of the best things about ESPN+ is the price. You can purchase access to this service for just $4.99 per month. You’ll also get a 7-day free trial.
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NHL and MLB games
Exclusive distributor of UFC PPV events.
3 simultaneous streams
There’s no yearly subscription option available, and no tiered packages available like you might find with other over-the-top streaming services, such as Sling TV.
Instead, you’ll get one streaming service subscription similar to Netflix or Hulu on-demand, with a library of content you can choose from, or live streams when they’re available.
You can pay for your ESPN+ subscription using any major US credit card, or Paypal.
Streaming quality through ESPN+ is good, but not the best on the market. On-demand videos come through in crystal clear HD quality with little buffering. You’ll be able to make out the details fairly well, whether you’re streaming from a mobile device, TV streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV, or on a desktop.
(We’d offer a screenshot from mobile, but as stated in the “Cons” section, the app disables screenshots.)
You won’t get 4K streaming, either on-demand or live, however. At times, the video resolution does decrease, but we found this to be uncommon.
The only major streaming issue we found was on the desktop version. During testing, many videos we tried to access on a desktop web browser would not load or would take a long time to load. This may vary for you, depending on your browser and computer, but it’s still concerning.
If you plan to stream ESPN+ content, we recommend using a mobile device or TV streaming device, which offered much more consistent stream loading and quality.
Additionally, we verified that the simultaneous streaming policy available with this service does work. You can stream on up to 3 devices at once.
You’ll find wide device coverage for ESPN+, all of which comes through the ESPN app. There’s a separate ESPN+ section on each devices’ app which allows you to access ESPN+-specific content. Outside of that, you’ll need a TV provider (such as Hulu + Live TV or Sling TV) if you try to access regular ESPN content on the app.
You can use the ESPN+ with all of the following devices:
- TV streaming media players: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku (most models)
- Smart TVs: Samsung TV (select models), Android TV and Roku TV
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire (tablets)
- Game consoles: Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- Desktop browsers: Most Mac and PC browsers
- Wearable devices: Oculus Go
ESPN+ on Roku
You’ll find there’s an ESPN app available for both Roku devices and Roku TVs. The app has a 3.5 out of 5 stars on the Roku Channels Store.
ESPN+ on Fire TV Stick
You can download the ESPN app on Amazon Fire TV devices. The app has a 3.3 out of 5 stars on the Amazon Fire TV App Store. The top-rated review sums up what we’ve already said about the app: “Very effective – Highly annoying”. That said, most reviews, and especially most negative reviews, are over two years old. ESPN has fixed many issues with the app since then.
ESPN+ on Apple TV
You can download and install the Apple TV app directly onto your Apple TV. The app is available in your Apple TV App Store.
ESPN+ on iPhones and iPads
iPhone and iPad users can download the ESPN app directly from iTunes. The app has a 4.5 out of 5 stars on iTunes. Most negative reviews relate to bugginess in the app (similar to Fire TV reviews), but the most prominent negative reviews are a year old or more.
ESPN+ on Android Phones and Tablets
You’ll be able to easily view ESPN+ content on Android phones and tablets with the Android app. The app is available in the Google Play Store, with a 4.2 out of 5 star rating. Many of the more recent reviews for the app are negative, but the reviews don’t offer a clear picture about what issue exist with the app. Most negative reviews consist of problems with ESPN in general instead of the app itself.
You’ll be able to watch live content through ESPN, but you’ll most likely find yourself using it mostly for on-demand content. ESPN+ rarely has more than a few live streams going at once, so its on-demand library is where the primary action is.
Through the service, you’ll be able to easily access on-demand content by going to “Event Replays” on the website. You won’t find a lot of content on-demand through ESPN+, however. For example, when we tested the service, there were just under 60 sporting events available on-demand.
However, there’s more content available on a sport-by-sport basis. You’ll just have to go digging. The website offers a rather unfriendly format for sifting through content. The mobile app is better on this end. You’ll just need to scroll down in the ESPN+ section to find more content, categorized by sport or type. You can click “See All” to see everything available for that sport.
You’ll also have access to the original shows on ESPN+, which are always available for streaming on-demand. As with the event replays, however, finding these in both the app and on the website is a chore.
Original content includes top-rated programs like 30 for 30, weekly and daily shows covering interesting sports-related topics, and some other unique historical videos.
ESPN+ also offers news articles from the app, although that may not be what most people are looking for in a streaming app.
ESPN+ Customer Support
Have a problem with your ESPN+ service? Customer support primarily consists of some FAQ articles. The service also offers a live chat, email support, and phone support for customers should there be any problems the FAQ can’t solve.
We’ve also found ESPN appears to be fairly good about responding to some negative reviews left on its Android and iOS app stores. If you need help quickly. We recommend the live chat feature, which you can access here.
Live chat was fast and response times were within seconds. Phone support is also fast, but you’ll have a harder time troubleshooting through there. Email support may be time delayed by several hours, but you will get an email within seconds acknowledging the receipt of your support ticket.
ESPN+ was surprisingly easy to cancel, but you’ll need to do it from a web browser, not the app. From the browser, you go to your user profile, then “ESPN+ Subscriptions”. ESPN+ asks you to log in to your account again, and from there, you can cancel. All told, the cancellation takes less than 2 minutes.
ESPN+ Refund Policy
ESPN+ offers a 7-day free trial and no refund once you’ve paid for a month. Instead, you’ll get to keep using the service for the remainder of the month, or for the remainder of the 7-day trial period if you just signed up.
ESPN+ is an interesting service that helps fill a particular niche. You’ll find that this service offers exactly what you need if you want out-of-market content for the MLS and MLB. It’s also a quality option for anyone who wants to get some UFC content at a low cost.
And if you’re an international sports fan, you’ll find a lot of value in the content that’s available here. With access to streams from leagues like Serie A and sports like cricket, it provides content you won’t find on ESPN’s regular channels. Only something like fuboTV might provide the same amount of international content, but at a much higher price.
For $4.99 per month, ESPN+ is certainly worth checking out. It may not have much in the way of popular sports, but sports super-fans may find value in the content. The only thing you’ll need to contend with is the poor quality app and website design that continues to be a black eye for the service.