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Xbox One’s getting a new sports network aimed at low-attention-span gamers

Above: A video on The Whistle's official website.

Image Credit: The Whistle

People who game on an Xbox system seem like they are probably into sports. That’s what the people behind the YouTube video network The Whistle are betting on.

The Whistle, which covers professional and collegiate sports, is bringing its content to Xbox 360 with a new app that will hit the console this summer. An Xbox One app will debut not long after that. The Whistle already serves up sports-related daily videos to its 4 million subscribers on YouTube and its official website. It’s hoping to capture the attention of even more people by offering up this content on Microsoft’s gaming systems, which will potentially put it in front of millions of people who might prefer to seek out sports videos on a television rather than on YouTube.

Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Football League all already have their own dedicated Xbox apps. Sports-news network ESPN also has an app of its own on the platform, but The Whistle aims for a different, younger audience with web-style videos that might focus on humorous, easy-to-digest stories rather than the 24-hour coverage. For instance, take this video where The Whistle covers the curse that supposedly affects anyone who ends up on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden NFL:

“The Xbox 360 platform is hugely important and relevant to our audience and channel partners,” The Whistle product development boss Evan Vernon said. “Creating a highly customized and beautiful experience where our audience can watch their favorite sports and personality-driven videos is hugely important to us.”

The Whistle chief executive John West told GamesBeat that his goal is to hit a market that might not think to go to traditional outlets for sports.

“The youth demographic is already on Xbox,” said West. “[A lot of young people] have shifted away from traditional media and television toward blended-entertainment experiences like gaming and online video consumption.”

The CEO also likes Xbox because it isn’t overrun with hundreds of thousands of apps. The Xbox 360 only has around 100 different apps, which means that if someone does go into the system’s store, they are more likely to find and install The Whistle — even if people don’t check Xbox market for apps in the same way they do their iPhone.

The Whistle also expects to find a slightly different kind of viewer on Xbox.

“Viewers on Xbox tend to stay longer, are more task-focused, and look for clearer experiences,” said West. “We have the environment and the ability to control and curate, but most importantly, we get to learn more about what our audience wants out of our network and what sort of programming they’re drawn to among our focused ecosystem instead of the larger Web.”

To bring The Whistle to Xbox, and to ensure a sleek experience, the network turned to developer Ratio, which built the Xbox app for MLB Advance Media.

Ratio plans to implement voice control and other gimmicky features, but it also will focus on creating an easy-to-navigate interface.

When The Whistle app hits Xbox 360 this summer, it won’t have to worry about only working for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Microsoft dropped that requirement for all video-streaming platforms, which also includes popular apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video. With that out of the way, independent organizations like The Whistle may deliver on Microsoft’s promise of making the Xbox One the “all-in-one entertainment system” since they no longer have to worry about the pay wall.

“The Xbox One is on our near roadmap, and we’re incredibly excited about the success of the platform as well as the decision by Microsoft to open streaming entertainment apps to all 80-plus million members of the Xbox community,” said West. “It shows a genuine commitment to their community and content partners, like us, and we’re excited to continue expanding into that space.”

 


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