Apple in Talks to Bring 'WatchESPN' App to Apple TV

watchespn iconBloomberg briefly reports that Apple and Disney are in talks to bring sports network ESPN's WatchESPN application [App Store] to the Apple TV set-top box.

ESPN subscribers with AppleTV would gain access to the network’s Internet service on their TV sets. [Sean] Bratches, the network’s executive vice president of affiliate and advertising sales, spoke in an interview today.

The brief report doesn't specify exactly how access to the WatchESPN functionality on the Apple TV would work, but currently customers of a number of cable and Internet companies have varying levels of access to the app's content on iOS and other platforms, which includes nearly all of ESPN's live broadcasts including online-only ESPN3 content.

Currently, cable subscribers through Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon FiOS, and Bright House have full access to WatchESPN content, while subscribers on a host of other Internet services can receive access to the ESPN3 content through the app.

espnairplay
WatchESPN being sent to Apple TV via AirPlay

iOS device users who are eligible to access WatchESPN content can currently send the content to an Apple TV via AirPlay, but including the app directly on the Apple TV would streamline that process.

Update: Bloomberg has expanded its article with additional comments from Bratches:

“We’re a platform-agnostic content company,” Bratches, the network’s executive vice president of affiliate and advertising sales, said today in an interview. “To the extent that in the future there’s an opportunity with Apple to authenticate through the pay-TV food chain as we’re doing with Microsoft, that’s something that we will participate in.”

Update 2: Bloomberg has updated its article once again, citing comments from an ESPN spokesperson backtracking from Bratches' statements by noting that there are no active talks with Apple underway.

No deal is imminent with Apple, said Amy Phillips, a spokeswoman for Bristol, Connecticut-based ESPN.

“We’re not having conversations with Apple about authenticating WatchESPN,” Phillips said.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

Diode Avatar
135 months ago
How about just an app store so users could choose what "channels" they want?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BeyondtheTech Avatar
135 months ago
I never understand this... why would anyone who has an iPhone use the aluminum remote? The remote app is a great experience, even better on iPad.
Aluminum remote:
[list=1]Press desired button.

iPhone as remote:
[list=1]Press Sleep/Wake or Home button.
* Slide to unlock.
* Enter passcode, if required.
* Press Home button, if another app is currently running.
* Flip to correct home screen, if required, to locate Remote app.
* Launch Remote app.
* Wait for app to locate AppleTV over Wi-Fi network.
* Press desired button or perform required function.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
charlieegan3 Avatar
135 months ago
Better be free, because I won't pay for TV programming.
don't people normally pay?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
haganaga Avatar
135 months ago
Aluminum remote:
[list=1]Press desired button.

iPhone as remote:
[list=1]Press Sleep/Wake or Home button.
* Slide to unlock.
* Enter passcode, if required.
* Press Home button, if another app is currently running.
* Flip to correct home screen, if required, to locate Remote app.
* Launch Remote app.
* Wait for app to locate AppleTV over Wi-Fi network.
* Press desired button or perform required function.

This is why I almost exclusively use the supplied apple tv remote vs. the remote app. Only time I use the remote app is to browse my local library while something else is playing on the apple tv. Speaking of that, I would LOVE if i could browse on the apple tv while something is playing (music aside which will play in the background).
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Small White Car Avatar
135 months ago
Better be free, because I won't pay for TV programming.

Ah, yes, because when I think of the part of TV most likely to be free, "sports" is what comes to mind first.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
albusseverus Avatar
135 months ago
[U][/U]How many watched the Paul McCartney concert streamed on iTunes and completely missed it??

THAT was the future of television Jobs was speaking about.

(Arificially) scarce availability of content is what the industry (most especially Disney) is after. No you can't buy that movie. It was available for sale for a limited time and you missed it.

Stupid as it seems to consumers, who've already moved light years beyond that nonsense, it's a compromise, like DRM on music. One step at a time, people. We have to get them into the game before they can see the rules have changed, stop fearing it and get on board with it.

On the other hand, inside word is that Hollywood is ALL about streaming at the moment. And don't think they'll let anyone, not even iTunes get between the distributors and their customers. So, there's that to contend with.

Every studio will want its own proprietary streaming format, that they alone totally control. It will be even worse than we have now, because that's they way they like it.

So let's get behind even the dumbest iTunes moves, because the alternative is bedlam. And who needs that when all they want to do is watch a movie?

No, I don't want a Warner Bros app or a Universal app, or a Sony app, or a Paramount app, or a …
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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