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ESPN exploring streaming deals, but don't expect a standalone video app

Lauren Goode

ESPN president John Skipper let slip in an interview at Recode's Code/Media conference earlier today that the sports news network was exploring options for web streaming deals, potentially with companies like Apple and Amazon.

When asked whether companies like Apple would successfully launch pay TV over the web this year, Skipper said, "I don't have a prediction about when they're going to show up. There is very significant interest from a bunch of people. Most of it is public, right? Amazon has been public about discussions they're having for video content. Apple has been public..."

When pressed further by Recode's Peter Kafka on whether that means ESPN, specifically, is talking to Apple and Amazon, Skipper replied, "I didn't say we're talking to anybody ... I said a number of people have expressed interest and we are in discussions with a large number of people."

"I think other people will enter into some markets with lighter packages in this calendar year," Skipper added.

Don't expect an HBO Now-like app from ESPN anytime soon

Skipper was also insistent that the network has no plans to offer a streaming app that's unbundled from a cable subscription. Some cable channels — most notably HBO, but also Showtime and Nickelodeon — have gone ahead and launched standalone streaming options over the past couple years, which still require customers to pay for access but ultimately break away from the traditional cable bundle.

"We could sell ESPN, as a standalone product, but we don't believe it to be a good business," Skipper said. "We're in 90 million homes," he added, "so no, we do not have a contemplation now that we would launch as a standalone."

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