By John Patrick Pullen
August 16, 2017

During the fall, footballs fans have so many games to choose from and so few Sundays. But with a newly updated ESPN app for Apple TV, fantasy footballers, NFL junkies, and college fans can now get their fix four games at a time.

The app has a new “MultiCast” feature that gives viewers five different ways to display as many as four live video streams simultaneously. For example, watching two games at once provides the option for both a side-by-side mode or a picture-in-picture layout.

Three games are simultaneously displayed in a “3-up” view that puts one large matchup on the left with two other, smaller games on the right. For four games there’s the similar-looking “4-up” mode that shows three smaller games on the right instead. Or for a better view of all the action, the “grid” layout carves the screen into quarters and shows all four games, equally sized, at once.

Debuting in time for football season and the U.S. Open tennis tournament, this upgrade isn’t just for football fanatics. In addition to streaming its televised content, ESPN’s app can be used to watch dozens of streaming-only games daily, everything from European soccer to NCAA sports.

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The digital effort from ESPN demonstrates its increasing interest in streaming television, and for professional sports in general. Features like MultiCast might attract new audiences to ESPN, which is looking to increase its sagging viewership numbers.

The NFL, meanwhile, recently signed a big streaming deal with Amazon to bring Thursday Night Football to Amazon Prime subscribers. The move by a non-entrenched player into the live television market was a shot across the bow to cable providers, which have largely been able to keep the lucrative league on pay and broadcast television.

But maybe features like ESPN’s MultiCast will shore up the effort to keep sports exclusive to pay television-linked services, because in order to log into the Apple TV app, you need to be a subscriber.

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