Netflix has become one of the very biggest names in entertainment as a streaming service that can boast a vast library of TV shows and is constantly updating itself in brand new ways. In fact, Netflix seems to be able to do no wrong by subscribers, not even losing customers when prices were hiked in 2016. So, it's natural that other companies want to capitalize on the Netflix model, and the latest is none other than ESPN. The sports channel is revamping a portion of its mobile app to more closely resemble Netflix. ESPN head of digital and print media John Kosner explained the change like this:
We spend a lot of time talking about the U.S. television industry, but the smartphone market worldwide has two and a half billion people. That gives us a chance to create an indispensable sports service for anybody, anywhere in the world. The beauty of Netflix to me is that they've said, 'We're going to make our best stuff available to you anytime you want it.' They do it brilliantly, but it's not rocket science.
One of the biggest problems currently plaguing ESPN is the fact that more and more young people are turning to fast-paced social media for sports developments rather than sticking with scheduled coverage and print news. For those of us with smartphones, we can get those updates as quickly as we can open the apps. John Kosner's reveal to Bloomberg of the increased focus on the ESPN app indicates that the channel is looking to keep up with the times as much as possible.
According to John Kosner, the ESPN app will be updated to feature an interface accessible only to paying cable customers. The interface can be customized to the preferences of a given customer and will feature the options to put live sports games side-by-side with episodes of ESPN series and documentaries. The aim is to give consumers options about when they can watch ESPN coverage rather than if they even want to watch.
The aim may be to emulate the Netflix model, but the new ESPN interface actually sounds more like Hulu to me. Hulu offers some services free to anybody but requires subscription in order to have full access to its libraries of shows. It seems that the ESPN app will still have features available to any with the app, but the new streaming interface will be exclusive to ESPN subscribers.
Despite some success with streaming, ESPN has been losing subscribers at an almost alarming rate in recent years. In the month of October 2016 alone, ESPN lost 621,000 subscribers who either switched to cable plans without ESPN or dropped their plans altogether. The channel will work toward laying off some surprisingly key members of its staff. Hopefully the new Netflix-esque app interface will give ESPN the boost it needs sooner rather than later.