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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New ESPN app for XBox Live looks great, lacks content

It's not the preferred way to watch ESPN, yet, but the redesigned ESPN Xbox Live application got a facelift recently. Powered by the content of ESPN3 and delivered by select Internet service providers (AT&T, Comcast included), the program now appears more like the traditional ESPN with the addition of a real-time score and schedule ticker.
Just in time for college football season, the four-letter network added a specific college football scoreboard. But the most significant addition has been the ability to watch picture-in-picture games. That's also where the rub comes in. It's not clear whether ESPN is going to put ALL the games it covers on Xbox Live and which ones they will re-air through the service.
Having recently become a cable cord-cutter, I've been relying on ESPN for Xbox Live to get my fill of game and program highlights with the occasional live action. Most of the live content comes from fringe sports such as Aussie Rules Football and the Canadian Football League, but ESPN does provide coverage of its own events i.e. golf and tennis majors, Little League World Series and MLB coverage to name a few.
The previous version of the software (I'm not sure exactly when it was upgraded, but within the past two weeks for certain) used to have excerpts from various ESPN programming within its library. "E60" and "Outside the Lines" are two of my favorites, but it's not clear if that content will be available as it was previously. The highlight feed regularly includes clips from "Mike and Mike in the Morning," "SportsNation" and "1st and 10," but not of its more highly regarded news programs.
ESPN for Xbox Live is available to users with a gold membership to Xbox Live at a cost of $42 per year. That cost is barely a fraction of what you're paying for cable, so it's worth a try if you're want on-demand highlights and the live user experience it can offer.


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