Launched in October 2010, WatchESPN delivers live streaming access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, Longhorn Network, SEC Network and SEC Network + on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices. Cable sports giant ESPN offers a mobile app that lets you watch live sports and shows on your iPhone or iPad no matter where you happen to be.
WatchESPN has been available on the App Store for more than a year now, though the app originally was limited to select cable providers. From there, you jump to a screen listing all the programs currently available for live streaming. Ita€™s once you tap on an event or show in the list that the magica€”or disappointmenta€”begins. An app like WatchESPN exists so that rabid sports fans like myself can take comfort in the knowledge that a must-see game is only just a few taps away.
It is currently accessible in more than 93 million households nationwide to fans who receive ESPN’s networks as part of their video subscription.
When ESPN added Comcast to the ESPNWatch fold earlier this year, I finally got the chance to sample the app and its streaming optionsa€”not just the ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU cable channels but also sports being shown on the companya€™s ESPN3 online channel. Its app is at the mercy of whatever network you happen to be connected to, and if youa€™re out and about, that can change as rapidly as the momentum in a Stanley Cup playoff game.

Unfortunately, that doesna€™t really mirror the most likely use case for WatchESPN: Youa€™re likely to use the app when youa€™re on the go. Besides the smooth login process, WatchESPN does make it very easy to find programming to watch, whether ita€™s live events or replays of already-completed games. For that app to be a success, I need to know that if I happen to be away from my TV when some athlete somewhere is doing something amazing, all I have to do is take out my iPhone, fire up WatchESPN, and enjoy the sweet relief of live video. We give you the scoop on what's new, what's best and how to make the most out of the products you love. But the Disney-owned service, along with WatchABC, require authentication from a service provider. The sign-in procedure may vary from there, but if youa€™re a Comcast customer like me, you sign in using your Comcast ID from within the app. I tried watching a baseball game on my evening commute ride home on public transit, for example, and would lose the feed anytime my ride hit an area where AT&Ta€™s network coverage was less than optimal. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and a whole list of providers have been supporting authentication for a while now. Ia€™ve put the app through its paces for the past week, and I cana€™t claim to have gotten a consistent experience.

Again, ESPN cana€™t do much about that, but when all I want to do is check in on a baseball game and I cana€™t, I dona€™t really care whether the app or my wireless carrier is at fault. That said, the app only offers a list of upcoming eventsa€”it would be nice if I could set a reminder that the app will be streaming next weeka€™s Poland-Greece European Championships opener rather than having to rely on my dodgy memory. Ita€™s worth having on your iOS device as an option for viewing live sports, but you need to be ready to live with WatchESPNa€™s current limitations. Now it appears DirecTV subscribers can view the live streaming service through a web browser or on any device that supports the apps. The app will lose the stream entirely, bouncing you back to the list of available programs. Sometimes in my testing, the picture would freeze and then speed up to catch up with the live stream; other times, Ia€™d lose the video entirely (though the audio would continue to play), with no apparent way to bring it back.

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