Slingbox and WatchESPN Are Both Good for World Cup Watching, For Different Reasons

On Tuesday, Slingbox's blog published an article Watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This article presents the major unique features of Slingbox that might benefit people interested in watching the World Cup:

  1. "No geographical restrictions when using a Slingbox as you have an internet connection wherever you happen to be". True, that's useful to the 90,000 Americans visiting Brazil specifically to attend the World Cup. And it will be useful to people travelling to watch the Tour de France in July who'd like to hear English play-by-play when they are not on the roadside, and for travelers to other International sports events this Summer.

    WatchESPN is only available to U.S. subscribers while they are in the United States.

  2. Closer to live retransmission of the event you are trying to watch. This is a bit harder to understand, but according to Slingbox, delays associated with streaming World Cup video through the WatchESPN app "range from 40 seconds to well over a minute depending on what {device} you're using (Roku and Apple TV having the longest delays)."

    Point 2 seems more like an attack on streaming apps in general than on WatchESPN in particular. But the post never provides an estimate of the latency in Slingbox retransmission.

The issue I take with this article is that Slingbox and WatchESPN are both really useful for World Cup fans. For the core U.S. audience of live events on television (people who live in a house that pays for cable television and high speed Internet access) the WatchESPN app is terrific-- especially for watching an event that's taking place at the moment.

I would love to travel internationally and try to use a Slingbox 500 in conjunction with the FiOS Mobile or MyFiOS apps for my iOS devices. But in the USA, WatchESPN should be quite sufficient for my World Cup watching needs. Would anybody like to sponsor that series of Operation Gadget in-depth reviews?

What I will get into in another article is that I discovered that WatchESPN on AppleTV is killing it in terms of its ability to queue up highlights for people who can't watch all the games that they want to see live. (WatchESPN on Apple TV has a different user interface than WatchESPN on the iPad or the iPhone.)

I'm indebted to Jim Dalrymple from The Loop for his mention of the article from the Sling Blog. He doesn't need a shout out from us, but going deep into the features of these TV accessory boxes and what they let you do to watch more of the World Cup is an idea that has legs.