The Protean identity of ESPN's online network ESPN3 shifts again this week, as the former ESPN360 attempts to distance itself from similar offering WatchESPN. The Worldwide Leader has elected to end the simulcast of sporting events shown on ESPN's cable nets to ESPN3—a service available to 73 million cable subscribers—and instead restrict those online feeds to viewers whose cable provider subscribes to the WatchESPN service (which reaches about half as many viewers).
WatchESPN is the service that allows subscribers to watch ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU programming on their computer or mobile device; ESPN is now limiting ESPN3 to "exclusive programming," such as Sri Lankan Premier League cricket which is currently airing on ESPN3.
This is likely to produce a lot of upset college football fans this Saturday, who have grown accustomed to being able to watch live sports simulcast to their computers, Xbox360, or mobile devices; if these subscribers don't have a cable provider offering WatchESPN, they'll have to use an actual TV to watch any games on those three broadcast cable nets. (Even some viewers like yours truly, whose Comcast subscription includes WatchESPN, can't access the service anymore.)
ESPN suits are expecting some backlash about this, and sent out the following memo to on-air talent advising them how to deal with the impending ****storm:
Subject: ESPN3 Simulcast Transition
As you may know, simulcasts of network content are going to be (mostly) removed from E3 beginning today. WatchESPN is the primary digital destination by which to consume content from our linear networks. ESPN3 will continue to focus on exclusive events, with more than 3,500 in the next year alone. See this Front Row story for more: http://frontrow.espn.go.com/2012/08/sample-espn3s-vast-sports-menu-college-football-us-open-cricket/
Because there is a gap between those who have access to ESPN3 (73m) and those who have access to WatchESPN (40m), we're anticipating some negative fan reaction beginning with the first weekend of college football (9/1). We are concerned that talent might be hit on Twitter with questions about the changes. We don't want you to have to get involved, but we do want you to be prepared and know where to direct fans, should you get questions.
We suggest that you respond to fans by saying,
@ESPN_FanCentral can help you with questions about WatchESPN and ESPN3 content.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to Amy Phillips or Kristie Chong in Communications.
Thanks so much!
The WatchESPN app was updated this week to reflect some of these changes, and it's apparently shut a lot of viewers out of their programming. It's worth remembering that this isn't some kind of free service; subscribers' cable bills reflect the fees paid for the right to access the ESPN content.
Like a lot of things (offered) on the Internet such as Netflix's early streaming days the Golden Age can only last so long. At some point it has to generate its own (replacement) revenue or disappear. ESPN appears to be pulling the valuable content where as the (more or less) free ride is over. Just like Netflix can't replace the wealth of (newer) content they had starting out as content owners are either demanding perceived value or simply pulling it all together.
Bottom line Internet media if/when it does become a mainstream reality won't be a bargain. At least if the content remains anything like it is today.
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Well we can with MLB, NBA and UFC although in fairness UFC is just pay-per-view anyway but you can get it on the web.
Now if only I could figure out a way to get College football. I suppose streaming the games in a pinch.
If you are talking about MLB.TV, the service would never work for me as I'm a Braves fan and live in there market. So yes, if I did "cut the cord" I could get MLB.TV and watch every team but the one I care about. I also think it is way over price, again, for not being able to watch the one team I care about. If you are a football fan, cutting the cord is not really an option. Never been a big NBA or UFC fan.
i cut the cord 2 years ago, and i have mlb.tv and i bypass the blackouts. albeit at a cost of $5 a month on top of the $100 for mlb.tv, but its easy and trivial.