Microsoft demonstrated a new version of the Xbox 360's ESPN app today, with support for the SmartGlass phone and tablet "second screen" control and interface system. The SmartGlass experience for ESPN essentially moves the entire interface for the ESPN app to your phone or tablet — you can pick highlights and change streams on your mobile device, and the content will show up on TV. "If you think about a guide on your TV, it's a lot of clutter," said Microsoft's Mark Budash. "We've taken all that data from your television and put it on your device."
"We think the best sports experience is on the Xbox."
Budash demonstrated the system using the Windows 8 SmartGlass app, selecting highlights while the main ESPN feed played on the Xbox. The highlights played in a window and muted the audio of the main video, which remained on screen. Budash also showed a stats interface, and flipped between the various ESPN feeds available. "We think the best sports experience is on the Xbox," he said. The update to the ESPN app will go out later this month, with similar SmartGlass updates for the Xbox's other sports league apps coming soon after.
Budash and fellow presenter Gerard Kunkel were bullish about the future of SmartGlass in general as they discussed the future of TV. "Someone who uses our product should intuitively reach for their phone or their tablet because they have better control of their Xbox," said Budash. "It's almost connected via an umbilical cord." Kunkel sounded a similar note. "When you take concepts from gaming and apply them to television, magical things happen."
We're waiting for some more press images of the new ESPN interface, we'll post them when they come in.
Update: An earlier version of this article said that the SmartGlass app would allow you to browse stats on the mobile device; ESPN contacted us to clarify that that functionality will not be available.