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ESPN’s new Apple TV app lets you watch four screens of live sports at the same time

Get ready for some football. And then more football. And then two more football games. All at once.

ESPN Apple TV app multicast feature with four screens ESPN
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Do you like sports?

Do you like watching a lot of sports? At the same time?

ESPN wants to help you — if you subscribe to a pay TV service that has ESPN and if you have the most recent version of Apple TV.

If you meet those conditions, you can go try out a new version of the ESPN app that will let you watch up to four different streams on one screen.

ESPN Apple TV app multicast feature ESPN

I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I watched a demo this week, and it seems pretty self-explanatory. You can select anything that ESPN is showing via the app — both the “real” ESPN programming as well as any digital-only streams they’re offering, and you can swap out different configurations pretty easily.

This isn’t the first app to use the “multicast” feature in Apple TV — there’s an MLB app, for instance, that lets you watch two screens at once. But this one is pretty slick:

First question: Other than demoing it to reporters or your friends, why would you want to watch four screens of ESPN simultaneously?

Answer: During Saturdays in the fall, when ESPN has paid a ton of money to show you college football and when it will air up to 55 games in a day, says Ryan Spoon, who runs digital for ESPN.

Next question: Really? I mean, someone probably wants to do this. But a lot of people? Like, more than 10 percent of the audience who has ESPN and the latest edition of Apple TV? Enough to appeal to the core subscribers you have to keep?

Answer: “I would be disappointed if it’s 10 percent. I would think it would be a significant percentage.”

Last question: Okay. I guess it’s like being at a sports bar, but you don’t have to put on pants. So will this feature be a core part of the new ESPN subscription service you guys are going to (finally) launch next year?

Answer: You think ESPN is going to talk about that in advance? Funny.

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