ESPN's standalone streaming service will be added to Disney+ in 2025

FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2013, file photo, an ESPN logo is seen prior to an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Cincinnati. The network will air the inaugural Overwatch League Grand Finals in prime time this month as part of a multiyear agreement to bring esports to the biggest sports platform on American television. Disney and Blizzard Entertainment announced plans Wednesday, July 11, 2018, to broadcast the OWL's playoffs and championship on ESPN, ABC and Disney XD. The Grand Finals on July 27 and 28 will be shown live on ESPN, marking the first time the network will carry esports in prime time. (AP Photo/David Kohl, File)
ESPN's planned standalone streaming service will become part of Disney+ in 2025. (David Kohl / Associated Press)
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Walt Disney Co. is betting big on ESPN as the Burbank entertainment company bolsters its streaming options and charts its future.

The company said Wednesday that its planned standalone ESPN streaming service — featuring content including the sports cable powerhouse's flagship channel — will be available on Disney+ for bundle subscribers. The plan is similar to how Disney integrated Hulu content onto the Disney+ platform last month for subscribers of both services. (The two services are still available as standalone apps)

Disney reiterated that it will make the "full suite" of ESPN channels available to customers as a standalone service in the fall of 2025. The platform will allow viewers to stream live games and studio shows, as well as take part in an "immersive, customizable sports experience" that will include fantasy sports, betting, e-commerce and more, company Chief Executive Bob Iger said during Disney's shareholder meeting.

"ESPN continues to deliver meaningfully for the company," Iger said.

Read more: Disney's Bob Iger triumphs over Nelson Peltz in bitter shareholder vote. But big challenges remain

He also noted the high viewership on ESPN for the NCAA women's basketball tournament game between Iowa and LSU, which drew more than 12 million viewers, a figure Iger said ranked above all but one men's NCAA tournament game, all but one NBA Finals game and every World Series game in the most recent MLB postseason.

"That's just a tremendous, tremendous affirmation that not only women's sports arrived, but their potential is so tremendous," Iger said. "I've actually never been more bullish about women's sports."

The moves in streaming come as Disney tries to shore up its streaming business by reducing viewer churn and increasing engagement. Disney has lost billions on its direct-to-consumer business as it tries to compete with Netflix, but Iger reiterated Wednesday that the company is "poised to reach profitability" in its combined streaming business by the end of this fiscal year, while delivering "significant sustained growth in the future."

Also during the meeting, Disney announced that the company's full suite of board nominees had won a closely watched shareholder vote, with dissident billionaire shareholder Nelson Peltz failing in his proxy contest with the company.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.