ESPN has checked into the game in the Xbox 360 Live Marketplace. As of this morning, the Worldwide Leader was offering five recent college football games for download, all of them pretty good: Auburn vs. LSU, South Florida vs. UConn and some Pac 10 action.
The Marketplace promises to upload one or two ESPN/ABC college games a week, within 48 hours of the broadcast’s end. NCAA basketball is in the game plan as well.The NCAA football games all come as widescreen downloads, available in 480p (standard definition, $3) or 1080i (high definition, $4.50). They are commercial free (not even those totally acceptable ESPN house ads intrude).Why would people pay for 2-day-old games that a DVR would capture just as well, especially since ESPN almost always reruns its games? One possible reason: commercial-free HD copies for fans without HD DVRs. When your lousy directional school knocks off Michigan, it’s a keeper. The boys in Iraq might find this worth a few bucks as well.
ESPN series such as “Madden Nation” and “The Contender” are part of the program, in old-school full screen, 480p, as are the “X Games” segments. The trio of World Series of Poker downloads are a mixed bag of screen ratios and resolutions. The surfing series “Down the Barrel” came in one hour-and-a-half blast, widescreen 480 or 1080. Those shows follow the Marketplace’s pricing for other TV shows, $2 SD/$3 HD.
The downloads provide a brief video preview that’s just the first minute or so of the broadcast, cut off abruptly.
“This is a natural fit for us, as so many Xbox 360 owners are huge sports fans,” read your canned quote from Ross Honey, senior director of Microsoft’s media and entertainment group.
“We are dedicated to providing our diverse community of Xbox Live users the premium entertainment content they want, and partnering with ESPN is a great example of our continued dedication in the video-on-demand space, especially in high-definition.”