When Microsoft’s next-generation video game console launches in the fall, it wants to provide users with plenty of reasons to buy one. And what better reason is there than sports? With that in mind, the new Xbox One will feature improved apps for sports fans tuning in to ESPN and the NFL.
The new ESPN app is designed to provide a personalized experience for users, highlighting all content that is relevant to them. There’s a fair amount of customization available for users — for instance, they can designate specific sports leagues or teams to follow and having clips, highlights, and news shown when they log in.
The app works by linking to individual user profiles identified through the Kinect sensor — that way all users are shown the content that will most appeal to them whenever they’re controlling the machine. In addition to personalized data, the ESPN app will also feature top news and trending clips and highlights for all viewers.
All Xbox users will be able to watch on-demand clips from ESPN.com, and those with an affiliated broadband provider will also get live events on ESPN3. But the app will also let those who subscribe to ESPN to watch live sports from that network, as well as ESPN2, ESPNU, and other networks associated with the sports giant. They merely need to authenticate with their cable provider and they’ll be good to go.
Along with the new ESPN experience comes a new NFL app, which will focus on all the news and video coming out of the football league. In addition to news from NFL.com, viewers will also be able to access NFL Network content, and tune in to NFL Red Zone, which on Sundays jumps from one game to the next depending on who’s scoring or in scoring position.
This year, it will also give fantasy football players on NFL.com to
mess with update their lineups directly from within the app on the Xbox One. Of course, fantasy football season will be half over by the time the Xbox One is released, but it’s still a nice feature to have.
While the fantasy football experience is focused on NFL.com for now, Microsoft hopes to enable the same type of functionality for other fantasy football leagues — like those on Yahoo or ESPN — in the future.
In addition to its Xbox apps, Microsoft is also working with the NFL to improve treatment of player injuries during games. To that end, it’s providing Surface tablets with software loaded on them that will allow trainers to keep real-time data on players in case of injury or a medical emergency on the field.
The software will allow trainers to keep tabs on various health issues that are faced by players. To do so, they’ll need to enter all player health data into the app… Then if an injury occurs, the trainer on the field and physicians who see the player afterward will have a more comprehensive look at what injury has been suffered, along with previous health data. The app will also be able to help trainers keep track of each player’s recovery time.
For Microsoft, the bet on sports — and the NFL in particular — is just one way in which it hopes to differentiate itself and appeal to users in the hunt for a new game console. By focusing on additional media, it’s hoping to set itself apart from Sony’s PlayStation 4, which is designed to appeal to a more hardcore gamer crowd.