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Sports Applications Technology

ESPN's WatchESPN App Gets Hard-Hitting Updates

August 16, 2013


We're approaching a very big time of year for sports fans. With baseball looking toward post-season matters—the World Series is just over two months off—and the football season a little under three weeks away, there's going to be a lot of ground to cover very soon. With this in mind, it's not at all surprising that ESPN (News - Alert) would bring out a few new updates to its WatchESPN app for iPads, though just what's contained in those updates might raise a few eyebrows.

The WatchESPN app is set to offer experiences that both dovetail into what's seen on television as well as what's going on beyond the action on television. First is the addition of the “live toolbar,” which will give ESPN viewers something else to watch, adding extra information to the streaming TV on the tablet itself. The live toolbar will go into things like live scores and stats to augment the presentation, all without having to leave the app. The app will also bring out a set of on-demand clips and highlights, available directly from that live toolbar. Of course, the WatchESPN app requires users to authenticate with a cable provider, so it's not exactly the experience many were hoping for. But considering the sheer range of topics on hand—from ESPN to ESPN3 to ESPNU and well beyond—there's quite a bit in store for the viewer here. 

Additionally, there will be live streamed video from ESPN3 available at no charge for educational networks and the military, requiring only authentication via an on-campus .edu or military base .mil account. Originally, that service was only available to those using Xbox Live Gold services, and none of those listed will have to authenticate with a cable provider. There will also be a set of live sports events via ABC, but the process will be a bit cumbersome. The WatchESPN app will instead redirect interested viewers to the WatchABC app, where said sporting events will be available for viewing.

ESPN has been working diligently to step up the numbers going into the WatchESPN app, and by most reports it's done quite well. At last report, over 55 million subscribers have access to WatchESPN, including subscribers of Comcast (News - Alert) Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cablevision, and several others. Available devices that can handle WatchESPN start with the iPad and carry on to both Apple (News - Alert) TV and Xbox devices. 

The WatchESPN app is going through some changes

A mobile experience is getting to be an increasingly large part of the story for a lot of cable networks these days; only recently, CNN's website was slated for some changes that would better reflect the growing use of mobile devices, so seeing ESPN change up an app that's making a big splash on tablets is a sensible move. Of course, the WatchESPN app isn't just mobile, but still, that app component is becoming a much bigger part of the way networks operate.

Edited by Ryan Sartor