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ESPN+ Review 2021: Everything to Know About the Sports Streaming Service

If you're looking for a streaming service to watch live sports, ESPN+ may be the streamer for you. Here's what you should know about the service.

Julian Dossett
ESPN Plus iPhone Live Golf

ESPN+

Pros Cons
  • Starting at $6 per month
  • Weekly live streaming events for MLB & NHL games
  • Exclusive ESPN+ shows and premium articles
  • Bundle yearly plan with UFC Pay-Per-View
  • No DVR for recording content
  • No NFL or NBA games available
  • Lacks ESPN's core programming
  • What is ESPN Plus?

    ESPN Plus is one of the most affordable ways to stream live sports. However, some fans might view ESPN Plus's offerings as slim pickings, especially if you're interested in pro football or pro basketball, both of which are completely absent from this service in terms of live games. However, ESPN Plus still covers a wide range of sports that spans from UFC to Soccer.

    It's helpful to think of ESPN Plus as the lite version of the ESPN network. This streaming platform will work best for fans as a service that complements the main ESPN network, because you'll find different content that's unique to the platform. But we should note that ESPN Plus doesn't include many of the big programs and broadcasts you'll find on regular ESPN. 

    ESPN Plus excels in college sports coverage, and you'll be able to watch plenty of live college games from different leagues. There are also some great original shows on this platform you won't be able to catch anywhere else. 

    What to watch on ESPN Plus

    The first reason why fans might look into an ESPN Plus subscription is for live sports. ESPN Plus includes a good amount of coverage for live games every week, and the service features a few different leagues in a range of sports, such as live coverage of MLB, NHL, and MLS games, as well as the PGA Tour and the US Open. But you won't find any of the NFL or NBA games available for live streaming that you're used to seeing on the standard ESPN network.  

    For fans of pro football and pro basketball, this is a big shortcoming. If you want lots of live coverage for the NFL or NBA, we recommend checking out a live streaming service that includes national sports networks, as well as regional sports networks, such as fuboTV or Hulu + Live TV.

    After sorting through the weekly schedule, it looks like most of the live games that ESPN Plus streams are at the college level. ESPN Plus live streams include a few MLB games and NHL games, but you won't be able to choose the games that are available, so this isn't a great option for following specific teams. Instead, the live games are just a good, affordable way to get your sports fix on the go. 

    Aside from live games, ESPN Plus also includes replays of games that were recently streamed on the platform. This is a great option if you miss a game, especially for UFC matches. Although you won't be able to watch live UFC matches on ESPN Plus without an upgrade, you might be able to catch a replay on the regular service.

    You can stream UFC Pay-Per-View (PPV) events through ESPN+, but you'll need to purchase the ESPN Plus UFC PPV bundle for $90. The regular UFC PPV event cost is $70, and an annual subscription to ESPN Plus is $60, so buying this bundle at $90 is a great value -- you get $40 off the regular ESPN annual subscription. Or if you already have a subscription to ESPN Plus, you can purchase the PPV event for $70.

    israel-hp.jpg

    Israel Adesanya, UFC 248

    Harry How/Getty Images

    ESPN Plus originals and shows

    Another big part of ESPN Plus is the on-demand library, much of which is original content specifically created for this service. You'll be able to find documentary series with famous athletes as hosts, such as Peyton's Places, which is a walk through the NFL's history hosted by the one and only Peyton Manning. Another ESPN Plus exclusive show is Why We Fight, hosted by UFC star Ronda Rousey. It's also the streaming home for ESPN's award-winning 30 for 30 series, which are must-see documentaries that cover all aspects of sports.

    Subscribers can also check out live sports shows like SportsNation and The Max Kellerman Show, which air at specific time slots during the week. Because ESPN Plus is more of a companion service to the main ESPN networks, you won't find some of the big shows that air on the main network throughout the week. 

    The Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+ bundle

    If you're looking to get rid of cable completely, a streaming bundle is a good way to go. Right now you can bundle ESPN+ with Hulu and Disney+ for $14 per month. Doing so unlocks the massive on-demand libraries currently available from Disney and Hulu

    This bundle includes the basic Hulu subscription, which means you'll have to watch ads with the on-demand library, which can get a little annoying. But subscribers also have the option to upgrade the bundle to include ad-free Hulu for $20 per month, $6 more than the base package.

    At the moment, a Disney+ subscription costs $7 per month, and a Hulu subscription with ads costs $6 per month. So the bundle that includes Hulu with ads saves you $5 per month, which is definitely helpful if you were planning on getting all three services anyway. 

    For fans of live sports, signing up for the Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+ bundle won't get you access to any more live sporting events than the regular ESPN+ subscription, because the other two services included are just on-demand libraries. So if you're only looking for live sports coverage, you're better off just paying the $6 per month for ESPN+.

    Hulu + Live TV includes lots of live sports, but this service is seperate from the bundle. If you're looking for a streaming platform as your main avenue for watching live sports, we recommend checking out Hulu + Live TV or fuboTV, as both include many of the networks carrying popular games and leagues. 

    ESPN+ compared to other sports TV streaming services


    ESPN+Hulu + Live TVfuboTVSling TV
    Starting monthly price $6/mo$65/mo$65/mo$45/mo (Orange + Blue)
    Free trial length 7 Days (in some cases)7 Days7 Days7 Days
    On-demand content YesYesYesYes
    Live sports streaming YesYesYesYes
    Popular networks and/or leagues *MLB, NHL, MLS, UFC, PGA Tour, Bundesliga, Top RankNBC Sports Network, ESPN College Extra, Big Ten NetworkFubo Sports Network, BEIN Sports, NFL NetworkNHL Network, NFL RedZone, MLB Network
    DVR storage No50 Hours250 Hours50 Hours
    Offline downloads YesYesNoNo

    *ESPN+ does not offer specific networks, but subscribers can live stream certain events

    At $6 per month, ESPN Plus is much cheaper than the other services listed above. So if you're just looking to stream the occasional live game and some sports-related on-demand shows, ESPN Plus is easily the most affordable option.

    However, this service is very limited with its live streaming features. Essentially, ESPN Plus channels are limited to one network that you can live stream. With the other options like Sling TV and fuboTV, you're paying more, but you're also getting access to many networks. 

    Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, and Sling TV all provide live sports coverage, and these platforms even include sports add-ons to further boost the sports networks you can watch. Only Philo lacks access to live sports.

    ESPN+ features

    There is no DVR option for ESPN Plus, but fans can watch on-demand replays of the live games that do stream on ESPN+. The same applies to daily talk shows and other content on the service.

    This service allows three simultaneous streams. That's a great deal, especially since the subscription is only $6 per month. If you want to know how to get ESPN+ on your mobile device, just download the ESPN app, then navigate to the ESPN+ tap.

    ESPN+ supported devices

    If you're wondering how to watch ESPN Plus on your favorite device, there is a good selection of devices you can use. Mobile devices and smart TVs support ESPN+, as well as video game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation. Here's a list of all the ways you can watch:

    • iPhone

    • Android 

    • Web browser

    • Apple TV

    • Amazon Fire TV

    • Android TV

    • Roku

    • Xbox

    • Playstation

    • Samsung connected TVs (Tizen)

    Our final take

    ESPN+ is very affordable and features live sports events every week. But due to the limited live sports streams, we don't recommend this as your main platform to watch live sports or follow your favorite team. Instead, it will work best for sports fans as a companion service to the main ESPN network, which you'll need to purchase separately. But for a quick sports fix at a low price, ESPN+ is a great option.