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ESPN to stream MLB, NHL action beginning in 2018

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Apr 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; ESPN television truck has the various camera angles pulled up on the monitor screens before the start of the McDonalds High School All American Games at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Embracing the current trend of cord cutting, ESPN will release a streaming service beginning in 2018 that will show live sporting events.

Alexandra Bruell of The Wall Street Journal reported (partial paywall) that while “It won’t be a replica of the regular ESPN channel, but does plan to show Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games.”

This is an expansion for ESPN in more ways than one.

The ESPN/ABC Family has not broadcast NHL games since 2004. So, this is a re-expansion into that market.

The other expansion is the more notable one, though. As subscription numbers show, networks like ESPN have struggled to adjust to the cord cutting generation. Luke Bouma of Cord Cutter News noted that “Since August 2016 ESPN has lost 2.8 million subscribers.” Without alternative options being offered, that number only figures to increase over time.

The best guess is that if this is successful, ESPN will begin streaming more sports. It will also be a model that other networks follow.