if anyone is going to crap the feed on WatchESPN it will be the cable company since EPSN makes the cable company pay for the service. You cannot go to ESPN and subscribe to WatchESPN, ie either your ISP has it or not. On a side note, in the UK, you can subscribe to ESPN Player, but it's limited to certain sports such as college sports or hockey. Thus, it doesn't do anything for EPSN to give crappy feeds.
I still don't like I can't pick the bit rate feed for ESPN. Ninety five percent of the time, I can support the highest feeds on all the other sports packages I get. I find the autodetect usually is really conservative on my HTPC. On my smartphone, it's really aggressive.
By the way, the WatchESPN app is really good when it works, and really bad when it's not. It's the goofest app I've encountered. I'm on Android. My friends with iOS has the same issues. I'll get a "video expired" error watching a live game, but I can hear the audio; I get a black screen. But it I'm using the HDMI out on my smartphone or tablet, mirroring, it'll keep the video on the TV, but the Android device will have that video expired message. Some of my friends have ESPN, and that feed on the app works a little better. I think it may have something to do with bandwidth drops.