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ESPN's new Apple TV app behaves like your cable box

It plays live video the moment you jump in.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
April 3, 2017
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As great as the streaming TV era may be, it frequently lacks the immediacy of conventional broadcasts. You can't always flip to your favorite network and start watching right away like you can with cable or satellite. ESPN, however, wants to recreate some of that experience. It just released a revamped Apple TV app whose centerpiece is automatic live streaming. If you've authenticated with a TV provider, the app will start playing a channel as soon as you hop in. This won't help much if it's playing the wrong channel, of course, but it could make the difference between catching a big play live and having to visit the on-demand video. Thankfully, that last part should also be easier.

The refreshed app now has a collection of curated on-demand video from both studio shows like 30 for 30 as well as sporting events like the X Games. Interface tweaks also help you browse clips by the channel or sport if you're looking for something specific.

By itself, the upgrade isn't likely to have you rushing to subscribe to conventional TV service if you're a cord-cutter. However, ESPN is betting that internet-first content will give you a reason to check out the app when you'd otherwise reach for your regular TV remote. The app will give authenticated TV users partial access to the Chicago Bears-themed We the Fans miniseries on April 9th, two days before it its broadcast date. While ESPN may be hesitant to embrace the future and offer internet-only streaming, it at least acknowledges that you shouldn't always have to wait for a broadcast.

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