ESPN+ adds personalized recommendations and offline viewing

It should be easier to watch sports on your terms.

ESPN is making some welcome (and arguably overdue) improvements to its ESPN+ service that could change how and where you watch. Its updated app now includes personalized recommendations for ESPN+, starting with on-demand videos. Watch a lot of hockey? You'll probably see more highlight clips from the latest NHL matches. Recommendations will "soon" spread to live and future events, so you might spot big matches you would otherwise miss.

The company is also borrowing a page from Netflix and other services by introducing offline viewing. No, you can't watch last night's basketball game, but you can watch originals like 30 for 30 and Quest for The Stanley Cup without a constant internet connection.

You should also see a host of subtler but still useful improvements, including a few for non-subscribers. There's now a dedicated ESPN+ tab in the mobile app's navigation bar, putting it within easier reach if you're a regular user (and, conveniently, advertising the service if you're not). There's a new UFC FightCenter that provides more details for every bout (and live streaming if you're a subscriber), a "More" tab for extra features and quick access to podcasts from the home screen. Samsung smart TV owners now have the option of subscribing to ESPN+ directly through the app, and they can sign into TV Everywhere to watch if they already have a paid TV subscription.

Combined with the recent addition of Oculus Go support, it's evident ESPN wants to keep the momentum going for its early venture into online-only TV. Not that it has much choice. ESPN knows it's losing subscribers to cord cutting, and this is currently its best shot at either keeping those viewers or bringing them back.