Photo: iTunes screenshot
For years, you’ve been able to get some of ESPN’s live programming on your phone, via a watered-down “ESPN Mobile TV” channel on MobiTV.But via ESPN’s new WatchESPN iPhone app, you can now stream full ESPN, live, to your iPhone and iPod touch. And ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU. (Click here for screenshots.)
The catch: You need to be a cable TV subscriber with certain providers. For now, specifically, you need to be a Time Warner Cable, Bright House, or Verizon FiOS customer.
This is part of the “authenticated” or “TV Everywhere”-type strategies that are being built by cable providers and networks to keep you hooked. In exchange for continuing to pay for cable TV service, the idea is to deliver more “value” in the form of things like this app.
This also seems like another reason that many cable networks are furious about Time Warner Cable’s awesome new live-streaming iPad app. The networks themselves probably want to be the ones making the iPad apps, getting another chance to “own” the customer. (Although in ESPN’s case, they seem to have allowed Time Warner Cable to add ESPNNews to its iPad app without a fuss — and it’s not even on the WatchESPN app.) The problem is, besides ESPN and maybe a couple of others, we wouldn’t trust most of them to make anything useful.
ESPN will roll out an iPad-optimised version of the app next month, and it will be available on other smartphone and tablet platforms in the “near future.”