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Comcast pushes play on WatchESPN

Tue, 05/08/2012 - 2:57pm
Mike Robuck

WatchESPN on XfinityComcast’s landmark deal earlier this year with the Walt Disney Co. is starting to bear fruit with today’s news that WatchESPN is now available to Comcast’s subscribers.

Whether they’re at home or on the go, Comcast customers that subscribe to ESPN are now able to watch ESPN live streaming content via the WatchESPN app, WatchESPN.com, and eventually on Comcast’s XfinithTV.com Web portal.

By boosting its TV Everywhere content, especially with live sporting events such as ESPN's coverage of the NBA playoffs, Major League Baseball games and Tennis Grand Slam events, Comcast is attempting to keep its subscribers from wandering off to other video providers, like over-the-top companies. In last week’s first-quarter earnings report, Comcast said it lost 37,000 basic video subscribers in the quarter.

Comcast signed a 10-year agreement with Disney in January that included TV Everywhere-type content from ESPN, Disney Channel, ABC Family and retransmission of free ABC broadcast network programs through seven ABC TV stations.

WatchESPN offers live feeds from four sports networks: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNU. In addition to online viewing, the free app allows the content to be viewed in high resolution on Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices once Comcast subscribers authenticate themselves through their Xfinity credentials. Also, ESPN’s “Goal Line” and “Buzzer Beater” are available through WatchESPN and XfinityTV.com when those channels are in season for college football and college basketball, respectively.

The WatchESPN app will be available on Android devices over the coming months.

Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have similar deals in place with ESPN, as does Verizon. With the addition of Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers, WatchESPN is now available to 40 million subscribers, which doubles its previous distribution total.

“Through the launch of WatchESPN, as well as the overall multi-year Disney relationship we announced earlier this year, we are providing millions of customers the opportunity to get more sports and entertainment programming across multiple platforms,” said Matt Strauss, senior vice president of digital and emerging platforms at Comcast Cable. “The launch of WatchESPN is the first of many launches that we will partner on with Disney, further reinforcing our TV Everywhere commitment.”

The WatchESPN content will also be integrated onto the Xfinity Web portal, and eventually the Xfinity app.

On the horizon, new “Watch” products from Disney Channel, DisneyXD and Disney Junior will debut to Comcast’s Xfinity TV subscribers later this year. Similar to WatchESPN, Comcast said these authenticated products would be accessible across a variety of platforms and devices, both in the home and out of the home.

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