If you're a football fan, Microsoft wants to make an Xbox One integral to your gameday experience. A new version of the NFL app for Xbox One, coming out later this month, is how the company plans to do it.
It starts with videos. Lots of videos. The app is centered around NFL Now, the personalized highlight and analysis channel that's tailored for your favorite teams and your fantasy leagues. Those who upgrade to a premium subscription will be able to stream classic games and other programming like documentaries and shows from the NFL Films "vault."
That's not all: if you have a cable subscription to NFL Network and NFL RedZone, you'll be able to stream those on the console, and DirecTV Sunday Ticket subscribers will get full access through their consoles as well. If you sign up for Sunday Ticket's full online subscription, you'll get access to DirecTV's own Red Zone and new Fantasy Zone channels as well — the latter highlights your fantasy players as they get close to scoring.
But it's not just video content. Fantasy football tracking is a huge part of the new experience. Building on the Xbox One app from last season, the new version has an updated Snap mode that shows a stream of plays made by your fantasy players. And instead of navigating menus to play highlights, you'll be able to set global Xbox One notifications for when fantasy players make big plays. Just hold the Xbox button and a replay will Snap to the side of the screen alongside whatever you're doing. Perhaps most importantly, the new app will work with more fantasy football leagues beyond NFL.com. Microsoft representatives confirmed to Polygon that ESPN is on board, and work is underway to bring Yahoo and CBS into the fold.
The new app is the latest fruit from NFL and Microsoft's $400 million, multi-year partnership. It's worth noting that you won't have to buy an Xbox One to get most of these features — the NFL app will be one of the very first "universal" apps on the console. That means the same app will work both on Xbox Ones and Windows 8 PCs — a feat made possible by the fact that the game console partially runs on Windows. Of course, the advantage of having an Xbox is that you can pass your cable feed directly through the console and use the NFL app side-by-side with live games.
What really matters for Microsoft, though, is if its high-profile NFL partnership will convince fans to buy an Xbox One. After heavily focusing on the console's TV and entertainment chops at launch, Microsoft has refocused on gaming as it's struggled to go toe-to-toe with Sony's PlayStation 4 sales numbers. The company has already abandoned its ambitious Xbox Entertainment Studios programming — perhaps a one-of-a-kind NFL app will make more of a difference.