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Disney's ESPN streaming service to cost $4.99, launch in spring

And the company's Netflix competitor, a streaming service for movies from Disney properties like Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars, will arrive in late 2019.

A boy in the stands at a sports event sits on top of an ESPN sign

Disney will launch its first streaming subscription service, ESPN Plus, in the spring. 

Getty Images

Disney's first subscription streaming service -- a sports video app dubbed ESPN Plus -- will cost $4.99 a month and launch in the spring, while a Netflix-like service for Disney movies is slated to arrive in late 2019, company CEO Bob Iger said Tuesday. 

The services are the vanguard of Disney's desired transition into a digital-forward giant. Facing down battles with deep-pocketed tech companies like Netflix, Amazon and Apple that are pouring money into original movies and shows, Disney and other traditional entertainment companies are circling wagons around their own media properties and figuring out how to make them available online on their own terms. 

Disney's Netflix competitor, a hub expected next year that will stream movies and other programming, will have "not just one but a few Star Wars series," Iger said Tuesday, during a call to discuss the company's earnings in the fiscal first quarter. "The level of talent will be rather significant."

ESPN Plus will launch as part of a redesign of the ESPN network's app. The new service is meant to provide thousands of live sports events that aren't on the main channels, Iger said. That will include Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and National Hockey League games, as well as rugby, golf, cricket and other contests. The service will also let users stream ESPN films and other exclusive programming.

ESPN Plus will be available on both Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile device systems, as well as on Apple TV and Google's Chromecast streaming-media device. 

For all users, the ESPN app redesign will introduce a different user interface to continue showing off scores, sports highlights and podcasts. For people who subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite package that includes ESPN, the app will stream its networks.

Previously, Disney has said that its Netflix competitor will arrive sometime next year and will be priced substantially below Netflix, where the most popular tier costs about $12 a month. In August, Iger said Disney would end a deal that gave Netflix its most-popular movies, aiming to funnel them to its own streaming video service instead.  

First published Feb. 6, 2:16 p.m. PT
Update, 3:24 p.m.: Adds quote from Iger.