ESPN+: PPV in a Streaming World

Live sports can be a major driver of user acquisition for Premium SVOD services (link). Questions abound concerning the best ways to monetize sports fans and rights in the streaming world:

  • Are sports fans willing to pay more?
  • Will sports fans translate to loyal SVOD Subscribers?

The Walt Disney Company has embraced in-app purchases on top of subscription fees — with Premier Access on Disney+ and UFC PPV Events on ESPN+. Analyzing both the purchase behavior and subsequent loyalty of ESPN+ Subscribers yields an interesting trend.

Antenna has observed that ESPN+ Subscribers who purchased a UFC PPV event were more loyal than those who did not. Whether by cause or effect, ESPN+ seems to have found a group of power users who are both willing to pay more for exclusive content and are more loyal to their Subscriptions.

This trend holds true across all ESPN+ plan types:

  • Disney Bundle: UFC PPV purchasers were +6pts better retained
  • ESPN+ Standalone (Annual): UFC PPV purchasers were +20pts better retained
  • ESPN+ Standalone (Monthly): UFC PPV purchasers were +24pts better retained

The cohort of ESPN+ Subscribers who do purchase UFC PPV events contribute higher revenue per user and are more loyal to their Subscriptions than ESPN+ Subscribers who do not purchase UFC PPV events. Antenna will continue to observe the dynamics of which users gravitate to those offerings and how that might tell a story about future behavior.

Brendan Brady is a Content Strategy Associate at Antenna, a measurement and analytics company providing insight into purchase behavior and subscription metrics across the new media landscape.