Five months after it was announced, Comcast’s (s cmcsk) Xfinity TV subs finally have access to a key part of the TV Everywhere promise — WatchESPN, the ESPN gateway to live streaming sports and news. The authenticated app — iOS only for now, Android “coming soon” — and WatchESPN.com should be accessible using the Xfinity TV login. Comcast and ESPN (s dis) say the same content eventually will be available through XfinityTV.com.
Going live with Comcast doubles the number of households with access to WatchESPN to 40 million.
WatchESPN is part of a multi-year deal Comcast and Disney (s dis) reached earlier this year that combined traditional carriage agreements with multi-platform access. Other channels due to get the “watch” treatment include Disney Channel, DisneyXD and Disney Junior.
Instead of forcing users to go through XfinityTV.com or the Xfinity TV app, access through WatchESPN lets sports fans zero on programming from across the ESPN network and to take advantage of the ESPN user experience.
But integrating it with Xfinity TV apps also makes it easier for Comcast viewers looking for a way to manage their portable or off-TV viewing experience through a single gateway. That’s also how users will be able to setup remote recording. WatchESPN is a network experience; XfnityTV is programming plus program management.
How does it work
Make sure you’re using the current WatchESPN app update dated May 8. Click on settings and go to “choose provider. Until today, the only options were Verizon FiOS TV and Broadband, Bright House Networks, and Time Warner Cable. Now Comcast is in the list. Select Comcast and you get a white splash screen that explains the requirements — must subscribe to Xfinity TV with access to VOD and must subscribe to the network you are trying to watch. If you don’t get ESPN in your Xfinity package, you can’t watch it through the app or online. That splash screen, which is bigger than those of other MSOs, also includes something unusual — ads from Comcast.
Enter your Xfinity user name and password, and you’re in. I don’t live in a Comcast area but I do tech support for parents who do and tested it with one of their logins. In a matter of seconds, I had access to live streams from ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, plus replays on broadband channel ESPN3 (nothing live at the moment), ESPN Radio and more.
Comcast Ventures head Amy Banse, one of the architects of Comcast’s multi-platform strategy, will be speaking at paidContent 2012: At The Crossroads, May 23 in New York. Here’s how you can join us for the conversation.