ESPN and Microsoft officially launched WatchESPN for the Xbox 360 game console, with the full lineup of the sports programmer’s TV Everywhere service -- but it’s currently available only to users of five participating pay TV providers.
The app now provides content from all of ESPN’s networks, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN Goal Line/Buzzer Beater, through to subscribers of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold subscription service ($60 per year). The companies announced plans to launch WatchESPN on Xbox in June.
Currently, WatchESPN is available to about 40 million households that receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription from Comcast Xfinity TV, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV and Midcontinent Communications. Users also can access the service online at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.
Xbox Live Gold members who aren’t subscribers of those five TV operators have access to ESPN.com video-on-demand clips and highlights, but not the live games.
Meanwhile, ESPN3, available to 79 million U.S. households, will continue to be available to Xbox Live Gold members who receive their Internet subscription from an affiliated provider. A list of affiliated Internet service providers for ESPN3 is at http://espn.go.com/watchespn/affList.
Features of the new ESPN on Xbox include: My Sports, which lets users choose their favorite sports and teams to find relevant games and content; a mini-guide that provides a preview of live events and highlights at the bottom of the screen; a split-screen mode to watch two events at once; and the ability to tag games and set reminders for upcoming programming.
The app also has an interactive ESPN BottomLine with scores and live alerts that includes the ability to jump to different sports or skip to the next story. In addition, WatchESPN on Xbox provides gesture and voice controls via the Kinect attachment, providing navigation, play, pause and rewind functions.
In December, Microsoft will launch Xbox SmartGlass experiences for ESPN -- as well as NBA and SportsPicks -- to provide real-time stats, player bios, news and highlights on second-screen tablet and smartphone apps.