Considering ESPN3 On The Xbox

Posted by Jonathan in GAMING, INTERNET, TELEVISION on 06-15-10    No Comments

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My heavens, some actual news out of a trade show. Shocker!

Yesterday, sports powerhouse ESPN announced, at the E3 video game confab in LA, that it will enter into a two-year, exclusive deal with Microsoft to stream ESPN3 — formerly ESPN360 — over the Xbox 360 via its premium subscription service. The move answers Sony’s similar hookup with Major League Baseball that streams its live Web  service via the PlayStation 3.

Let us step back and behold the stories here:

  • We see, yet again, the raw power for sports to command premium subscription dollars in the otherwise barren content wasteland that is the Web. Sports deals, even bad ones (more on that in a sec) now force the hand of even the world’s bad-ass video game box makers. I can’t wait for, say, the NFL to take its content to Apple with an iTunes deal. The fact is that as the great Web 3.0 shakeout  continues, sports will clearly not only be a survivor, it will be a winner.
  • How crappy a deal is this Microsoft? I will have to double check it when I actually see the service, but from here, all Microsoft is getting is the ESPN3 streaming service that’s already available via the Web. The only plus is that it’ll be on Microsoft’s platform and not a on a competitor’s. Think about that: Microsoft is paying for the mere right to reshow ESPN content on a gaming platform. It is getting nothing unique. Whooa!
  • Can Microsoft make good on its promise of adding unique interactive experiences to sports? The real shocker in sports tech is how lame Sony’s efforts have been to add content to the MLB material available on the PS3. Sure it’s cool to get games on a gaming box, but I’ve been underwhelmed at what those games are like, given that the PS3 is one of the most advanced pieces of computer hardware on the market.  Can Microsoft bring down the digital Berlin Wall that separates traditional linear sports and its interactive cousins? Or will the two domains remain as separated as ever?

However this breaks, the next 18 months on the Xbox and PS3 will be some of the most interesting in sports technology. In many ways, we are getting a critical early glimpse at what the next era in sports will actually be.

Stay tuned. Or rather stay plugged in.

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No Comments on “Considering ESPN3 On The Xbox”

  • Seth

    OK Blum, I agree with you that the next step here is to see what Microsoft and Sony do to create some interactivity to go with these packages. But I think we should give both some credit for adding sports content via the Web that can be displayed on your living room TV. Indeed, that was the great promise of these now not-so-next-gen gaming consoles: that they would be the centerpiece of your home entertainment setup.

    To me, the big, untapped promise of Web content is the gulf that exists between the PC and the TV. These gaming consoles give content creators and providers an already installed base to port that content over onto the television screen. One story I saw about this said some of the content streaming from ESPN3 will be in HD. And they carry a ton of games on there, especially a lot of out-of-market college football and basketball. You still have to have an ISP that carries ESPN3, which is another roadblock they need to fix. But in principle, I love this because it bridges the gap between PC and TV by using a device that millions of people already have. I have Verizon Fios, so I’ve got access to ESPN3, but I don’t want to sit in front of the computer to watch a game.

    One thing I do wonder about, though, is how well this content will stream for people using wireless connections. I’m not sure about most people, but I know my Xbox and PS3 connect to the Web wirelessly. What will the experience be like for the end user? Will you be able to tell you’re watching streaming video, or will it look like a TV broadcast? I’ll have to try this out when it comes online and let you know.

    06-15-10 » 10:54 am »

  • Jonathan

    But Dude,

    Like we have bickered about for three years, the point is, who is going to step up and make that jump. And with the cable ops in the middle screwing with this, and the leagues being disorganized, it’s not like this is getting done sooner rather than later.

    For now, games will be games and TV will be TV.

    The question really is, is that so bad.

    You know? Basically the network is a network. It’s a complete mess. And that is not getting fixed any time soon.

    06-15-10 » 11:17 am »

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