ESPN+ is an extensive, and affordable, solution for watching sports live without cable. The sports programming is robust enough that ESPN+ can be a standalone option for some sports fans. Read on to learn if the service is right for you.
Table of Contents
- No NBA games
- UFC PPV events require an additional fee
- Managing passwords and usernames from a Hulu + Live TV subscription can be clunky
- ESPN losing Big Ten TV rights means no Big Ten sports soon
ESPN+ has assembled a diverse lineup of sports programming. The app is great for casual fans who like to sample games from several different leagues.
Some sports fans, especially out-of-market NHL fans and MMA fans, will find that this singular subscription meets all their sports viewing needs, and at a decent price.
ESPN Plus content live son the ESPN app, and is a subscription only model. If you’ve yet to sign up, you will be prompted to pay a monthly fee before you can access the content library.
The ESPN Plus app does a great job of inviting users to explore content deep into the app with sports and league specific categories.
When you arrive at the app, there is a horizontally scrollable area that highlights featured events and programming, and as you scroll further, it is possible to select the exact sport you want to watch and ESPN Plus returns the results.
As you can see from the screenshots above, the app allows users to search by sport, league, or even conference. For a sports only app, the mobile experience on ESPN Plus is straightforward and delivers what sports fans need – a quick guide to everything on at the moment.
The big drawback of the ESPN Plus service is a lack of most NFL games and all NBA games.
What sports are available? We documented the following options as we used the app:
- College football
- College basketball
- Hockey (college and NHL)
- Select Monday Night Football broadcasts
- Swimming & Diving
- Track & Field
- Auto racing
Disney also maintains this page, which documents in greater detail the sports programming available on ESPN Plus.
ESPN+ airs a full slate of college football games
In most seasons, ESPN Plus aired more than 500 college football games from Power 5 Conferences like the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big 12, and PAC 12, and also from smaller conferences like Big Sky, MAC, and AAC.
ESPN Plus is especially important for Big 12 football fans because the conference doesn’t have a network dedicated to athletics, like the ACC, Big 10, and SEC. As such, games that would air on SEC Network if an SEC team was playing, will air on ESPN+ when a Big 12 team is appearing.
ESPN+ is especially important for early season Big 12 football, and for games later in the season that don’t pique the interest of the major networks.
Great option for out-of-market NHL fans
The bottom line: ESPN+ airs 75 exclusive games and 1000+ out of market NHL games throughout the season subject to local blackout rules.
NHL.TV was folded into the ESPN Plus as part of a seven year contract between the NHL and ESPN. This means that, for out-of-market NHL fans, they can get virtually every NHL game for the subscription price.
Note: in-market NHL fans, because of the RSN contracts I mentioned above, will be blacked out.
Exclusive home of the UFC
As part of your basic ESPN Plus subscription, you get access to all of the UFC Fight Night Events. The Fight Night events usually feature up and coming fighters, and fighters looking to break into championship contention, so they’re often fun to watch, and come at no extra charge.
ESPN PPV events, otherwise known as numbered events, are an extra $79.99 per event, even for ESPN Plus subscribers.
Cord cutters also have the option of paying for a UFC PPV event and an annual ESPN Plus membership, but that still runs $99.98, all paid at one time.
If you want to avoid paying $79.99 per UFC event, even UFC numbered events re-air after 2 days on ESPN Plus and Hulu + Live TV (if you have purchased the ESPN Plus bundle).
The bottom line: ESPN Plus boasts tons of soccer games, but the Premier League is notably absent.
According to Disney Media, ESPN Plus is home to thousands of soccer games each year, with the following leagues included in regular programming:
- Belgian Pro League
- Bundesliga / Bundesliga 2
- CAF World Cup Qualifiers
- Copa del Rey
- Dutch Eredivisie
- English Football League (EFL Championship, Carabao Cup, League 1 and League 2)
- FA Cup
- FA Community Shield
- FFA Cup
- Gulf Cup
- International Champions Cup
- LaLiga / LaLiga 2
- NCAA College Soccer
- Swedish Allsvenskan
- UEFA (Nations League+ European Qualifiers)
- US Open Cup
- Women’s FA Cup
- Women’s FA Community Shield
Golf on ESPN Plus
The golf lineup at ESPN Plus could be better, but live coverage of the Master’s and PGA Championship are two significant additions.
The bottom line
The bottom line for me after having used ESPN Plus for several years now is there is tons of value for sports fans. Yes, most NFL games and the NBA are missing, but at $9.99 per month, this app is a must have for me, and for most sports lovers.
The mobile experience is far better than many reviews say, which makes me wonder whether reviewers are actually using the service, and ESPN Plus is basically the only game in town for high level MMA.
Two thumbs up for ESPN Plus from the Streaming Stadium team.