Have you ever stopped and thought about the channels that you watch on television? If you are anything like my friends and I, you only watch the ESPN channels and occasionally another channel such as TNT during the NBA playoffs. Doesn’t that make you wish you could buy just buy a sports package from your cable company that only showed ESPN channels? Well, with the recent agreement between ESPN and Xbox Live you will be in luck.
Earlier this week at the annual E3 conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft and ESPN extended their partnership that will allow live streaming of ESPN broadcasts on Xbox Live. Before the conference, Xbox Live only carried ESPN 3, but under the new agreement XBox Live will carry ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPN Buzzer Beater and ESPN Goal Line. Included in this ESPN package will be the ability to watch live SportsCenter, ESPN First Take, NFL Live, Baseball Tonight, and other live ESPN events from any other major sport.
But that’s not all the ESPN and Xbox partnership will provide for fans. In addition to increasing ESPN content, members will also be able to personalize their accounts with specific sport and team settings, set reminders and notifications, use the breaking news ESPN BottomLine feed, and split their screen to watch multiple games at once. Additionally, anyone who has NBA League Pass or NHL GameCenter Live will still be able to watch out-of-market games on their Xbox as well. Xbox Live will be the one-stop-shop for all sports watching needs.
Recently, the way to fulfill the need to watch sports and following your favorite team has become more interactive and personal with the prevalence of Smartphone applications and live streams on the Internet. The new Xbox Live capabilities can take watching sports to a whole new level. The ability for sports fans to have the option to get rid of cable and be able to consolidate all of their movie watching, video game playing, and now sports watching to their Xbox Live will have enormous appeal and upside.
This new sports oriented push by Microsoft is a fantastic idea for anyone who owns an Xbox Live and has a Gold Membership. Alas, there are some restrictions with this new deal. The ability to watch ESPN on you Xbox is dependent on a description to Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV or Comcast Xfinity TV. Most cable customers will be left out of this opportunity and forced to purchase an Xbox if they want to have access to this new ESPN and Microsoft deal.
If this new venture is successful it will be very interesting going forward to see if other companies pick up where Microsoft and Xbox left off by offering a similar type of sports package on their own gaming consoles. Possibly PlayStation or Nintendo Wii could be poised to execute a similar strategy? Whatever the future brings, if this ESPN and Xbox partnership goes well it seems reasonable to believe that other gaming consoles would follow suit and cable companies would need a major evaluation of their business strategy.
(Photo Courtesy of droid-life.com and ESPN)