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What Channel Is ESPN on Samsung TV Plus?

ESPN Remains Noticeably Absent for Samsung‘s 250,000,000 TV Plus Viewers

As the world‘s largest TV manufacturer, Samsung holds massive influence. Their Samsung TV Plus streaming service comes pre-installed on all 2016 and newer Samsung smart TVs sold in the United States.

With Samsung shipping over 250,000,000 TV Plus-enabled devices to date, that equates to a vast audience lacking access to ESPN‘s programming.

According to 2022 data from Statista, Samsung accounts for 31.8% of global market share for TV shipments. Combine this with cumulative units sold, and Samsung TV Plus agora totals over one quarter billion current potential viewers in the United States alone.

Yet sports fans searching their Samsung TV Plus channel listings remain unable to access beloved ESPN networks like ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN News and more.

Cord-Cutting and CTV Tailwinds Signal Missed Opportunity

Industry analysts suggest this omission leaves money on the table for both ESPN and Samsung TV Plus alike. The rise of cord-cutting and Connected TV (CTV) streaming paints a clear picture.

According to eMarketer, by 2024 a massive 33.8 million US households will have cut the traditional TV cord. A 2022 Accenture report underscores this, with 43% of US consumers now identifying as cord cutters or cord nevers.

At the same time, CTV usage continues rapid acceleration. Per Insider Intelligence, 87% of the US population now uses CTV devices to stream content on their TV sets.

With viewers turning to internet-connected smart TVs to access video with or without traditional pay TV packages, Samsung TV Plus reaches this key demographic at a crucial inflection point. An ESPN channel could simultaneously:

  • Satisfy subscriber demand for sports streaming
  • Help satisfy ESPN and parent company Disney’s streaming growth initiatives
  • Give advertisers coveted access to sports fan demographics within Samsung TV Plus’s free, ad-supported platform

Industry observers project that connecting with sports fans only grows more important across streaming TV moving forward.

Digital TV Landscape Further Showcases Market Potential

Recent developments across the digital TV sector reinforce trends suggesting streaming sports leaves money on the table for key players.

For example, fuboTV’s early 2023 carriage deal to bring ESPN networks onto their live TV streaming platform. As the number three internet TV provider behind YouTube TV and DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV caters squarely to the cord-cutting demographic.

Their willingness to pay subscription fees to ESPN despite their more budget-friendly market positioning further showcases the necessity of sports content. This aligns with fuboTV already spending heavily on other sports rights packages in recent years for properties like the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and more.

Meanwhile, streaming TV juggernaut Sling TV made the opposite bet. In 2016, Sling launched their “Orange” base package priced at just $35 per month without ESPN networks. Customer outcry soon forced Sling to walk back this initial lack of ESPN by creating higher-tier packages that bundled Disney’s networks back in.

And then there‘s DIRECTV STREAM – the number two live TV streaming platform. Their recent decision to remove regional sports network fees for their base plans likely increased subscriber numbers thanks to ESPN’s maintained presence.

Across streaming TV providers, the lessons remain consistent: sports matter. Cord cutters have shown time and again their refusal to forego beloved channels like ESPN, even when economics suggest they should.

Samsung TV Plus gives this key demographic over 250 free channels without needing to input payment details or sign lengthy contracts. The platform‘s flexibility caters perfectly to fickle cord-cutters. Sports content long loved by conventional cable subscribers could help retain these viewers.

As timestamped Google Trends data over the past two years shows, searches around “what channel is ESPN” continue to rise even amidst the streaming wars. Call it live event fear of missing out. Call it long-term brand equity. However conceptualized – ESPN interest persists despite market upheavals.

What Does ESPN+ Mean for ESPN‘s Future?

As Samsung TV Plus weighs potential opportunities with ESPN around streaming sports, context around Disney‘s ESPN+ proves instructional. Why did Disney launch this standalone streaming service in the first place back in 2018?

The Disruptor Becoming Disrupted

For decades, ESPN enjoyed comfortable profitability through linear cable TV. Industry disruption soon took aim at this business model. New streaming entrants with slimmer cost structures transformed viewer expectations around affordability.

Suddenly, ESPN and parent company Disney faced multi-front threats as economic moats once protecting their business evaporated:

  • Pay TV subscriber losses mounted as cord-cutting accelerated
  • Skinny bundles excluded expensive sports networks like ESPN from base packages
  • Direct-to-consumer offerings from new media giants like Amazon and Apple did not include ESPN networks at launch

Further danger came from tech disruptors buying up live sports streaming rights that once seemed exclusive to ESPN thanks to their deep pockets and industry influence.

Financial reporting suggests that as recently as 2014, ESPN may have accounted for over 25% of Disney’s total operating profit. But as pay TV subscribers cut the cord over the ensuing years, ESPN stood to lose billions from its long-reliable business model.

Something needed to fill this profitability gap as audiences migrated to streaming platforms.

Enter ESPN+ – Streaming Service As Lifeline

Industry observers cite ESPN+ and accompanying strategic initiatives as a lifeline for Disney-owned ESPN within today’s streaming-first media reality.

As linear TV falters, ESPN+ brings monetization potential from direct-to-consumer diehard fans uninterested in bloated cable packages. ESPN+ also allows Disney to capture revenue from audiences unwilling to pay for cable TV just to gain access to live sports.

Early ESPN+ bundled offerings with Disney+ and Hulu emphasize this strategy. Disney actively boosts overall streaming service subscribers – future-proofing against those abandoning expensive legacy pay TV.

And they successfully monetize the very streaming trend threatening their business. Cord-cutters no longer represent profit-detracting defectors, but instead become monetized users across Disney’s streaming ecosystem.

Key ESPN+ Milestones Context
Launched April 2018 Distributed direct-to-consumer to reach cord-cutters
1 million subscriptions after 5 months Strong initial adoption through bundled packages
21.3 million subscribers as of October 2022 Continued rapid customer acquisition
$9.99 per month rate has never increased Sustainable model not reliant on annual price hikes

Industry Projections Support ESPN+‘s Trajectory

Early data bolsters confidence around ESPN+‘s ability to counteract profit dangers from TV subscriber declines.

As reported by CNBC: “Disney said that ESPN+ will be profitable by 2024 and generate between $5 billion and $6 billion in revenue by 2024, along with between 12 million and 15 million domestic subscribers over the same period.”

A 2022 UBS analyst report further stated that “ESPN will remain stable/grow profits” Moving forward despite ongoing pay TV subscriber losses. How? Continued major growth projected for ESPN+.

If its current pace continues, ESPN+ penetration should achieve nearly 50% of US broadband households before 2025. Crucially, these may skew toward valuable demographics like younger viewers in their peak spending years.

LightShed Partners projections tell a similar bullish story for ESPN+, forecasting:

  • 30-35 million worldwide subscribers by 2025
  • $3.5 billion in revenue at that threshold

RBC Capital Markets also published optimistic estimates around Disney‘s streaming initiatives:

"We are confident Disney+ along with Hulu/ESPN+ will be profitable long term and believe streaming could contribute over $7.0 billion in profit by 2025, effectively replacing lost cable operating profit.”

Across investment research firms, confidence runs high in Disney’s streaming-centric reorientation. ESPN+ plays a key role moving forward – delivering sports direct-to-consumer even amidst eroding pay TV partnerships.

Opportunities to Align Award-Winning Sports Content

For Samsung TV Plus, debates continue internally around whether pursuing ESPN as a free ad-supported TV channel makes fiscal sense long-term.

Estimator projections around potential advertising revenues certainly justify further exploration. And concepts around brand halo effects and viewer retention stemming from coveted live sports prove more difficult to quantify but undeniably meaningful.

Nonetheless, Samsung TV Plus currently provides quality sports programming options absent ESPN‘s networks. Award-winning channels span categories with extensive appeal holding their own against stiff competition:


  • CBS Sports HQ: 2022 Webby Award winner for sports coverage, bringing 24/7 news, highlights and analysis
  • Stadium: Named Innovator of the Year in 2022 by Cynopsis Sports Media Awards thanks to forward-thinking distribution and programming


  • Golfpass: From established golf icon Rory McIlroy and NBC Sports, this channel expands the sport‘s reach through instructional content and course access


  • FIFA+: FIFA’s official channel promises thousands of live games globally along with original programming for true futbol fans


  • MAVTV Motorsports Network : Nominated as a finalist for Best Broadcast TV Network by 2022 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards thanks to rapid viewership growth and programming innovations around racing

And channels like Outside, the 2022 Webby Award-winning for best Lifestyle channel help showcase active niche sports often overlooked by mainstream networks.

Of course ESPN‘s brand recognition and extensive live offerings stand apart. But current Samsung TV Plus sports networks validate internal discussions around whether such an expensive deal makes fiscal sense. For now, sports enthusiasts find quality free programming spanning football, golf, racing, extreme sports and more.

But in an evolving era where cord-cutters watch premium networks like HBO Max ad-supported, and multiple free streaming platforms secure NFL Sunday Ticket rights, nothing stays static forever. For Samsung TV Plus and ESPN alike, massive opportunities around sports streaming continue rising across a fragmented media landscape filled with billions of dollars and shifting consumer demand.

The Decision Remains – But the Trend Looks Clear

Could ESPN coming to Samsung TV Plus one day align the interests of:

  • Diehard sports fans
  • ESPN’s mandate to reach digital viewers
  • Fast-growing free streaming platform Samsung TV Plus
  • Advertisers coveting live sports inventory

The undercurrents across streaming TV suggest substantial growth runways persist. Rights may currently prove prohibitively expensive given Samsung TV Plus’s business model.

But as digital convergence accelerates across smartphones, tablets, desktop interfaces and internet-connected living room TVs – key players serve their interests by meeting audiences everywhere modern sports viewership occurs. Which calls into question permanent absolutes around not providing wanted sports content to your built-in customer base.

Does the eventual arrival of an ESPN network on Samsung TV Plus mark a probability? As cord-cutters reorient their viewing habits, industry momentum certainly trends that direction.

For now, Samsung TV Plus features quality niche and news-oriented sports channels – even lacking ESPN‘s level of prestige and audience reach. Yet the platform‘s flexibility and existing viewers show that potential persists should conversations evolve around priorities and budgets.

Because across a media universe moving towards streaming, ESPN continues solidifying itself as the worldwide leader in sports regardless of distribution channel. With billions in growth capital backing their initiatives post-TV rights bubble bursting, bold digital moves define their playbook.

And from product bundling to tiered subscription packages – Samsung constantly tailors pricing models and partnerships as needed to stay ahead of trends and capture added market share.

So for fans seeking ESPN on Samsung TV Plus today, sobering news: the wait continues as rights talks progress behind closed doors.

But tomorrow? Stay tuned as the action unfolds.