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ESPN Clears Chromecast Support Goal for iOS & Android Ahead of World Cup

June 03, 2014


For soccer fans—or “football” as it's called throughout most of the rest of the world—there's no greater time than the World Cup. All the action, all the drama, and all the sheer glory of the soccer pitch is on hand more than ever during that time of year. ESPN (News - Alert) is no less immune to the effect of the World Cup, and thus showed off new versions of its WatchESPN app for iOS and Android that come with a particularly valuable new feature: Chromecast support.

With the new Chromecast support, users will be able to send video from the WatchESPN app—which in turn includes video from multiple ESPN sources including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN Deportes, which is where the World Cup action will be taking place. ESPN Deportes, at last report, intends to carry all of the various games involved in the World Cup, so those who want soccer action regardless of the time issues involved will be able to get full satisfaction right here.

But as is often the case with this sort of thing, there's a downside. Those who were hoping to get in on this action without a cable provider will be left out in the cold, as users will need to authenticate with a cable provider to get in on this. That also means that those cable providers who don't allow authentication of ESPN apps will likewise be out of the picture. While many major providers don't have a problem with this strategy, including AT&T (News - Alert), Comcast, Cox and Dish Network, DirecTV won't allow such a thing, nor will some other providers. For those who can't get in on the full action, there will be clips available on demand, but this will likely serve as cold comfort for those who were hoping for better access.

ESPN won't be alone in this, however, as other properties will be joining the Chromecast ranks. Both WatchABC and WatchDisney—also Disney (News - Alert) properties—will get Chromecast support here, though likely also with a cable authentication.

Such structures have met with some limited success; some wonder what the point of having to authenticate with a cable provider really is, until the issue of time shifting comes into play. But why use an app for time shifting when digital video recorder (DVR) systems are so widely available? Some have even considered the concept of the cable station app and wondered why not simply make the app content available to those in the cable cutter ranks. The answer, of course, is much the same as why a-la-carte cable plans aren't available; it interferes with the standard business model and pricing structure. Cable as we know it tends to bundle its channels, using the more popular channels to bolster support for the less popular ones. ESPN, for example, tends to be a big draw, so it can be used to offset the costs of offering, say, the Chiller horror channel or the Cloo mystery channel. If people could subscribe to only the channels desired, then several channels would likely be removed altogether as the followings involved would be too small to support the channels.

So the state of cable television is likely to continue until new methods of monetization to support the lesser channels can be found, and users will likely need to authenticate to use an app for some time to come. Still, at least those who want to catch World Cup action will be well taken care of, thanks to ESPN's variety of connection options.

Edited by Maurice Nagle