ESPN Linear Networks Land on iPad, iPhone with New WatchESPN App

ESPN has hit iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch screens just in time for the Masters to tee off today, with the WatchESPN app now available to Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Verizon FiOS TV subscribers. The new app allows subscribers who receive ESPN’s linear networks from these MSOs to access ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN3.com on their Apple devices.

The WatchESPN app is available for free at the Apple’s iTunes App Store. Upon download of WatchESPN from the App Store, users must enter their cable subscriber credentials in order to access the ESPN networks.

According to ESPN, the app will be available on other smartphones and tablets “in the near future.” In addition, a version of the application optimized for the iPad will be available free to download in May.

The app’s release is yet another step in ESPN’s attempt to grow its authenticated TV Everywhere platform. The company first launched an online-accessible authenticated version of ESPN in October 2010 for Time Warner Cable and Bright House subs. Authenticated versions of ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Buzzer Beater/Goal Line launched in January.

“When we launched in 1979, nobody envisioned a day when people would carry ESPN in their pockets,” says George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. “But here we are.  And we’ve reached this watershed moment for the industry through tremendous collaboration with forward-thinking partners.”

ESPN has yet to come to terms on an authenticated streaming deal with major cable and satellite providers such as Comcast, Cablevision, DirecTV, and Dish Network. Both Time Warner and Cablevision recently introduced iPad apps that allow users to watch live TV. These apps have received a massive waive of complaints from networks that claim these TV Everywhere offerings are not covered under their current carriage deals.

Upcoming major sporting events that will be available via the WatchESPN include the Masters (first round tees off today), the NBA Playoffs, and Major League Baseball.

“This represents the culmination of our efforts over the last five years,” says Sean Bratches, EVP, sales and marketing for ESPN. “We strive to serve the sports fan wherever they consume sports, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than making our networks available to fans whenever and wherever they might be.”