Xbox 360 Brings ESPN3 to the TV Screen

Sports networks and leagues continue to find new ways to reach the living room, and ESPN’s latest effort, making its ESPN3.com and video-on-demand content available over the Microsoft Xbox 360 console, is one of the biggest leaps to date. For fans of ESPN3, the move means a chance to leave behind the lean-forward experience of using a computer and embrace the lean-back experience that is the norm in living rooms and for long-form sports-content consumption.

The Xbox 360 game console offers a service called LIVE that connects the console to the Internet and allows gamers to do things like download games, watch pay-per-view movies, and more. There is also a subscription level, called the Gold level, that costs $50 a year and opens the door to additional content.

“All Xbox 360 LIVE members will have access to on-demand video clips and highlights from ESPN.com,” says John Kosner, SVP/GM for ESPN Digital Media. “But Gold members who are customers of an affiliated service provider will also have access to thousands of live events via ESPN3.com.”

ESPN3.com is ESPN’s 24/7 broadband sports network and includes college hoops, college football and bowl games, basketball, baseball, top international soccer, golf majors, and tennis, including all four Grand Slam tournaments. It is available in approximately 65 million households nationwide via dozens of affiliated service providers: Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Charter, Windstream, RCN, Insight, Frontier, Cavalier, Mediacom, Conway, Grande Communications, to name just a few. It is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.

Kosner says there are no plans to offer ESPN3 through other game consoles. “This deal is exclusive within the game-console category.”

ESPN content and features available to Xbox LIVE members include video streaming through ESPN3.com as well as “Games at a Glance,” whereby users can pull up real-time score information without leaving the game they’re watching and easily switch between events. Users will also be able to watch out-of-market games happening around the world and play “Predict the Winner,” where users note which team they think will win and see the percentage of other people in the Xbox LIVE community who are rooting for the same team. A “My Sports” feature allows users to easily keep track of favorite teams and players.

The Xbox 360 platform also recently unveiled Kinect, a new motion-sensing controller that allows users to replace traditional game controllers with a system that can track hand and body movements as well as voice control. The ESPN service is Kinect-enabled.

Says Kosner, “Kinect allows fans to control the content they watch by the sound of their voice or the wave of a hand.”