Building on its multiscreen-video game plan, Comcast is letting Xfinity TV subscribers access live sports and other ESPN programming via the WatchESPN app and at WatchESPN.com, with access to the content coming soon to the MSO's XfinityTV.com portal.
With the addition of Comcast's Xfinity TV customers, WatchESPN is now available to 40 million subscribers through deals with Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Verizon Communications' FiOS TV.
WatchESPN provides most of the live events carried on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3, available on the Web and on iPads, iPhones, iPod touch and Android devices. Currently, Comcast subs will be able to use only the WatchESPN apps for Apple devices, with support for Android slated to be added in the coming months.
The MSO expects to introduce new "Watch" services from Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior -- which will include the live TV simulcast of each channel -- for subscribers later this year. Similar to WatchESPN, these authenticated products will be accessible across a variety of platforms and devices both in-home and out-of-the-home.
Comcast is launching WatchESPN and the authenticated content from the Disney networks under an expansive 10-year deal the MSO inked with the media company in January. To date, WatchESPN apps have been downloaded about 8 million times, according to the programmer.
With such "TV Everywhere" services, the industry is hoping to reinforce the pay-TV subscription model and dissuade consumers turning to free or pirated video content.
"Through the launch of WatchESPN, as well as the overall multi-year Disney relationship we announced earlier this year, we are providing millions of customers the opportunity to get more sports and entertainment programming across multiple platforms," Comcast senior vice president of digital and emerging platforms Matt Strauss said in a statement. "The launch of WatchESPN is the first of many launches that we will partner on with Disney, further reinforcing our TV Everywhere commitment."
Added David Preschlack, executive vice president of Disney & ESPN Media Networks, "Customers want access to content wherever they are, and by working with Comcast, we're making it possible. In just one year, we have doubled the distribution of WatchESPN."
Once Comcast subscribers download WatchESPN, they will receive instructions to enter their Comcast Xfinity credentials to access ESPN content on their devices. The WatchESPN app is available free on Apple's iTunes Store; ESPN says that access on Android devices will follow in the coming months.
In addition, Comcast will integrate all of the content available through WatchESPN on XfinityTV.com and soon to the Xfinity mobile apps. The MSO claims the Xfinity TV service offers more than 75,000 TV shows and movies that are available anytime on Xfinity On Demand, XfinityTV.com and through the Xfinity TV app, as well as a suite of tools and features to personalize and manage viewing across screens.