Yesterday, ESPN launched an iOS app, called WatchESPN, for for the iPhone and iPod. This app allows the user to stream the video from ESPN’s library of live content available at ESPNnetworks.com. This includes ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and Buzzer Beater. The title of the ESPN post indicates a version for the iPad is available, however near the end of the article the author reveals that the iPad version will be in May. Sources indicate the app isn’t quite yet optimized for the iPad.
Normally, I don’t cover mobile video apps like I do TV apps (after all, this is a TV app site). However, ESPN’s app gets me excited for a couple of reasons: it’s an iOS app that could be the ground work for an Apple TV app (when/if Apple allows apps), and there’s indication an Android version is on the way which could translate to a Google TV app.
The Apple TV has added MLB and NBA integrations, however the live sports beyond those apps are mostly controlled by ESPN (NHL has their own distribution as well). If ESPN (which is owned by Disney, a company in a very close relationship with Apple) has the foundation setup to integrate their live streaming to an iOS device, it surely will not be difficult to do the same for Apple TV, which is running on iOS.
What the WatchESPN post didn’t discuss is an Android version. However, when reviewing the iPhone app, I found an indication in the FAQ’s to an Android version:
Just like the Apple TV and mobile, the Google TV is running the same OS as their mobile offering. So, a WatchESPN Android version (which isn’t available now) could be the foundation for the Google TV as well.
Regardless of whether we see ESPN on the Apple TV or Google TV, cord-cutters shouldn’t rejoice quite yet. The WatchESPN app is only available to users with current TV contracts that include ESPN from Time Warner, Verizon FIOS and Bright House Networks. Hopefully, ESPN will figure out a subscription service that allows non-TV subscribers to pay for the same content.