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Microsoft's console launches the WatchESPN app, but it will only work for consumers who get pay-TV services from a handful of providers

ESPN Streams to the Xbox 360

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
11/19/2012
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The WatchESPN app launched on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Xbox 360 console Monday, for those consumers who've ponied up for Live Gold memberships.

It's also available only from service providers that have deals set up with ESPN: Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Bright House Networks , Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Midcontinent Communications .

The app, already available on iOS and Android tablets and smartphones and via PC Web browsers, provides the live HD video feeds of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater. The Xbox version also lets users pick their favorite sports and teams, provides access to a Mini Guide (a preview of all live events and highlights at the bottom of the screen), and a split-screen feature that shows two events concurrently. The app also works with the voice- and gesture-driven Kinect accessory/platform.



Why this matters
The Xbox 360 still has a long way to go in terms of providing access to live TV programming, but the addition of the WatchESPN app marks the latest step in the device's evolution toward becoming a full-fledged set-top box, and fulfilling Microsoft's vision for making the gaming console the home's central entertainment hub.

Five months ago, at E3, Microsoft had announced it would add more than 30 new content providers to its gaming platform.

For more



— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner
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Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:17:28 PM
re: ESPN Streams to the Xbox 360


To break it down further, The Worldwide Leader in Sports says the WatchESPN app is available to ~40M households that subscribe to pay-TV packages from the operators that have affiliate deals for ESPN's TV Everywhere service:   TW Cable, Comcast, Bright House, Verizon and Midcontinent.  So, not a bad start, but still not anywhere close to total coverage in the US.  JB


 

AESerm
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AESerm,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:17:27 PM
re: ESPN Streams to the Xbox 360


Microsoft is keen on qualified content, as I noted in this piece on SmartGlass. Then even content that's qualified (ESPN) faces limited distribution at least in cable circles, as Jeff reports here. (Any hard numbers on Live Gold subs?)

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