Xbox One rewards cord keepers with live NFL games

Xbox One NFL App Fantasy_TeamRoster

Back in May 2013, when the next-gen Xbox One gaming console was revealed to the world, the sports-loving Internet exploded over the news that Microsoft had entered into a deal with the NFL that would bring pro football to the new hardware in the 2013/2014 season and beyond. Little more than that was revealed at the time, and before we knew it a whole summer’s worth of games-focused trade shows came and went with barely a word on the subject.

Now that pre-season football is winding down and EA Sports’ yearly Madden NFL game is out now, gamers are thinking football. With the season’s first matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens set for this Thursday, there’s no better time for Microsoft to give football-lovers a peek at what’s to come on the Xbox One and show us what that NFL partnership entails.

Cable subscribers enjoy the added benefit of streaming content from ESPN and ESPN2 in the app.

At long last, an official NFL Network app is coming to a Microsoft platform, but this one requires a cable TV subscription that includes NFL Network. Once that’s set, users will be able to access NFL Network content, including Thursday Night Football and NFL Redzone coverage. As many had suspected after the initial announcement was made, there’s not a lot of content if you don’t have a cable subscription. You’ll be able to check out highlights and other content available at NFL.com through the app, but a cable TV subscription is necessary to watch full games.

The app’s design resembles many of the other reference apps that we’ve seen for Xbox One so far. A content bar at the bottom of the screen offers quick access to any games that may be underway and other, related content. You can scroll through video highlights and stat sheets on a per-game basis, and send the content you’d like to check out to another bar, located at the righthand edge of the screen. Fantasy football fans that have NFL.com-hosted leagues can have a team’s stats automatically tracked. Support for additional fantasy providers is coming in 2014, but everyone will have the option at launch of manually telling the app which players to track. You can, of course, also make these bars vanish and have whatever game you’re watching occupy the full screen with nothing else to pull your attention away.

Microsoft expects the NFL app to make an even bigger splash in the 2014/2015 season. The NFL partnership was very young when the Xbox One was first announced, only a few weeks old at that point. That’s why there was nothing to see at June’s E3 trade show in Los Angeles, and that’s why nothing surfaced in any subsequent announcements. Until now, of course, as a new season looms. The expectation with the Xbox One releasing in November is that enough performance and user feedback will be gathered to have a new and improved experience ready by the time the 2014/2015 season kicks off.

The ESPN app that is currently available for Xbox 360 is also getting a makeover for its Xbox One release. It shares a similar layout to that of the NFL app, just with content pulled from a much broader spectrum of sports. Most users of the app will be able to access any of the content on ESPN3; this includes a significant number of college games, multiple tennis and golf majors, and more. It’s a little bit of everything. The catch is that your Internet provider has to have a deal in place with ESPN, though we’re told that all of the major ISPs are locked in.

Cable subscribers enjoy the added benefit of streaming content from ESPN and ESPN2 in the app as well. Much like the NFL app, bars on the bottom and righthand sides of the screen fill out with additional content. The bottom bar is broken into multiple channels. ESPN Trending, for example, streams in brief packages that are pegged to some major happening or another in sports news. You’ll see stuff here like Top Ten Goals or an update on Miami Heat storylines. Then there’s myESPN, a user-tailored channel that populates with content based on which sports and teams you follow; the easiest way to set that up will be through your login at ESPN.com.

The cable subscription requirement continues to be a sticking point for those of us that prefer to enjoy televised programming from other sources, but Microsoft’s upcoming sports apps for Xbox One certainly deliver on the promise of enhanced TV-watching that the original console announcement nodded to. Now if only we could subscribe to NFL Network content without paying for a larger cable package…

Gaming

Dataminers discover SNES games, more emulators for Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online may soon launch SNES games and more emulators, according to data miners. The list of hidden SNES titles include Breath of Fire 2 and Star Fox 2, while the other emulators may be the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Home Theater

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent HD antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be touch. To help, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Gaming

‘RollerCoaster Tycoon 2’ ride takes 12 years to complete

A RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 player has constructed a coaster in the game that will take more than 12 years to complete from beginning to end, and is actually a tiny ride taking up a small portion of the landscape.
Product Review

'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe' is 2D platforming wizardry

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the latest Wii U game to come back from the dead on Switch. And wow, it’s much better than we remembered.
Gaming

‘Battlefield V’ adds Squad Conquest mode in ‘Lightning Strikes’ update

Electronic Arts and DICE have detailed what is included in the Battlefield V update Lightning Strikes. The update includes access to the mode Squad Conquest through the end of January.
Gaming

Here's everything you need to know to trade in 'Pokémon Go'

After literally years of waiting, Pokémon Go finally gives trainers the option to trade Pokémon with others. It's not easy, though, and the cost is quite high if you try trading with strangers.
Gaming

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Gaming

‘Rocket League’ is the latest game to get full cross-platform play

Psyonix has announced that Rocket League now supports full cross-platform play across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, joining Fortnite as the only games to do so.
Gaming

Here's what you need to know about 'World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth'

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the latest expansion for the now 14-year-old MMORPG. It goes back to the roots of the Alliance vs. Horde conflict. Here's what you need to know.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

Latest ‘Fortnite’ update channels Halo with a scoped revolver

The latest update for Fortnite, update 7.20, is now available, and it brings a new Scoped Revolver weapon to the game alongside the returning Glider item and a limited-time Snipers-only mode.