Opinion: Almost every other ISP allowed customers to watch the 2011 BCS Football Game in high definition through Xbox Live. However, Time Warner and Bright House held out.
When the #1 ranked Auburn Tigers beat the #2 ranked Oregon Ducks last night, the entire BCS title game could be seen on Xbox Live. An ESPN3 app on the Xbox 360 broadcast the full game in high definition to all Gold members. Well, almost all Gold members.
I thought it would be neat to review Xbox Live's live stream of ESPN3. Sadly, I am one of the 14.4 million Time Warner subscribers who cannot access ESPN3's live sporting events on my home console. So, instead, I had to to turn to Twitter to research the experience second hand.
The live broadband sports network has been available through Xbox Live since the app's November 1, 2010 launch. Nearly 250 cable companies support the live streaming app, including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox and Charter Communications. However, Time Warner, the second largest cable company in the United States behind Comcast, has yet to sign on to Microsoft and ESPN's groundbreaking Xbox Live service.
When I turned to Twitter to file the initial story about the success (or failure) of the service, I saw a lot more unhappy Time Warner customers take to the social networking site to express their outrage.
"This is why i hate Time Warner. I could be watching the Auburn/Oregon game streaming live in HD on Xbox Live if i had any other service," tweeted Justin Taylor, a Time Warner subscriber in Los Angeles. He continued to tweet about the issue to Time Warner's customer care Twitter account, asking "@TWCableHelp yes. why don't you support ESPN3 on Xbox live? Every other internet provider does."
To be fair, Cablevision and BrightHouse are two other ISPs that have also left their customers frustrated. However, their subscriber base tops out at around 3 million and 2.2 million, respectively.
Justin still presented a strong argument and it actually resulted in a response from Time Warner Cable: "@TheSmarmyBum We are still working out the authentication details. As of now if only works on a computer. ^PS"
Yes, Time Warner is correct in saying that its customers can watch ESPN3 on a computer. But that's no substitute to watching the big football game on an HDTV in your living room. More importantly, these "authentication details" weren't worked out in time for the big game.
ESPN does offer some hope in saying that Time Warner and Bright House customers are next on the list to receive the service, but it's a shame that the setbacks, whether they were caused by greed or the stated technical issues, could not be sorted out before the end of the college bowl season.
"Access to ESPN3.com content within the ESPN on Xbox LIVE experience is currently available in more than 53 million homes," touts ESPN.com. Soon, hopefully, that number will increase to add Time Warner and Bright House subscribers before we miss out on the next big sporting event. After all, if I'm paying the same $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold that a Comcast, Verizon or AT&T U-Verse customer is paying, I too should be able to enjoy ESPN3's 3500-plus live events. It's only fair.