Xbox Live to Carry ESPN 3. For even an occasional channel surfer, it may seem like Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN is everywhere. There’s ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Classics, ESPN News and the list goes on.
Starting this November, ESPN 3, the sports channel’s broadband service, will also be available on Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox Live platform. It will be the first time ESPN has done a distribution deal with a videogame console, providing an established TV link for its broadband service.
Like videogames that gamers play together remotely on Xbox Live, the 23-million-member service seems tailor-made for trash talking while playing and watching sports. Viewers will be able to watch 3,500 live sporting events a year on the service as well as tap into ESPN’s on-demand video clips.
The exclusive tie-up will incorporate the Xbox 360’s Kinect technology which allows fans in different cities to watch the games at the same time and talk to each other. Kinect also responds to vocal commands such as “replay” to call back the last play.
This brings a whole other element of social engagement,” said Matt Murphy, ESPN’s senior vice president of digital video distribution, in an interview.
The ESPN viewers on Xbox Live will also get the chance to answer trivia questions and respond to online polls during games. ESPN says it plans to offer college football and college basketball games in addition to pro basketball, pro baseball and soccer matches.
The service will be available at no additional cost to Xbox Live Gold members, who pay about $50 a year for the platform and paying customers of Internet service providers who offer ESPN 3. Xbox Live to Carry ESPN 3.