Thoughts: ESPN on Xbox Live

Just spent some time with the ESPN app they added with the latest Xbox Live update if you have a Gold account.

To start off, it’s mix of both ESPN3 and ESPN Video.  Overall video quality was poor, a good deal poorer than what I get watching either site on my computer.  That is already on top of ESPN’s video quality being worse than what I get from Netflix or MLB.TV over the same connection.  I’m not sure if this is to do with Xbox Live today, when it was appallingly slow, or in general, so we’ll have to see how it shapes up in the long run.  The avatar-populated initial start is just a needlessly overdone way to show you “Top 3 things and a link to everything else”.  Once you’re into the menu structure though, it’s a solid NXE interface, if again, a bit slow on loading the thumbnail pictures.  The video interface itself is your standard Xbox video layout.

On the content side, the ESPN Video stuff is what you’d expect: mostly SportsCenter highlights.  I didn’t find any of their more off-beat stuff like Mayne Street or Sports Science although you can’t find that stuff half the time on the site anyway.  Upside here is that I haven’t run into any ads moving between clips which is quite welcome.

For me, ESPN3 is mostly about live events, and that’s where it tends to have problems.  It can never seem to decide how much bandwidth to use and so the quality changes constantly, and unlike Netflix on Xbox Live, the quality changes mean buffering pauses.  Those are awful at any time, but between pitches it makes me want to drown something.  I’ll see about watching the Lakers game Wednesday night and report back then.

If its a better live experience than the site, even with lower quality, it should be enough to keep my Gold subscription active.