There are three distinct technology-related events that have had a profound effect on my life in the last ten years. The first was experiencing the wonders of a Tivo box for the first time (you mean I can pause and rewind live TV?). The second was my purchase of an iPod (you mean I can put all of my music on this one little device?). The third was my mom somehow figuring out how to register for Facebook (you mean I have to actually decide whether to accept her friendship request or not?).
A few weeks ago, I added event number four to my list: downloading the WatchESPN app for the iPhone and iPad.
ESPN on your mobile device shouldn’t be that big of a deal, right? After all, you can stream movies on your respective mobile devices – isn’t that the same? It isn’t. Movies have always been available in various settings: the theatre, your TV, airplanes. But watching ESPN has always been a TV-only experience, typically in the comfort of your own home or at a sports bar. Always.
Along comes this app and all of a sudden, its impact is far greater than allowing me to catch Sportscenter on my hammock in my front yard. Among the many ways I’ve already put it to use:
- When my 19 month old daughter just has to watch the Elmo Sings DVD for the 40th time and I just have to watch highlights of how my fantasy baseball team is doing, now we can do both.
- When my wife passes out from exhaustion at 9:30pm after spending the evening singing with Elmo and my daughter, I don’t get yelled at for keeping the TV in the bedroom on too late.
- On a cab ride from JFK to my hotel, I watched three full innings of a baseball game. Live! Great picture quality, great sound – as if I was in front of my TV at home.
As with most new technology, the ESPN app does have a few issues. The biggest complaint I saw among user comments is that the app is currently only available to Time Warner, Bright House Networks and Verizon FiOS TV customers. If you don’t have one of those, you’re a bit out of luck. If you do have one of those, set up is a bit of a pain, but once I logged in to both my Time Warner and ESPN.com accounts, I was able to get things going. Also, unless you’re using the app at a place that has a really strong wireless signal, you are going to find that from time to time the connection freezes or times out.
All that aside, though, I’m still in love with the app. I’d love to write some more, but there are five late morning baseball games in play today and, well, I need to do some live “research.”