Microsoft today confirmed plans to launch an updated version of the ESPN service on Xbox Live on Aug. 25. One of the most interesting new features: A split-screen view for watching two games at a time, or watching a game while checking out news and highlights in the other frame.

The revamp is timed for the start of the college football season, the start of a heavy few months for sports viewing. Other new elements include a mini guide at the bottom of the screen, and the ESPN “BottomLine” news and score ticker familiar to viewers of the sports network.

Gizmodo’s Matt Buchanan got an early look at the interface and declared that it’s the only way he wants to watch sports now.

ESPN on Xbox 360 is free to Xbox Live Gold members who connect through participating broadband providers. It’s based on content from It isn’t a comprehensive menu of sports — it doesn’t include live NFL games, for example — but in my experience it’s at least a good supplement for regular ESPN, and perhaps enough to replace full-blown ESPN for more casual sports viewers.

Here are a couple more screenshots of the new interface …

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  • Kristin Eide

    If only you could play (insert extremely popular video game here) split screen while watching sports…a wife/girlfriend/significant other’s worst nightmare.

    • Anonymous

      That sounds perfectly awesome. :)

  • Guest

    Awesome! This is fantastic news for sports fans. I hope we get NFL games on this ESPN app in the not-too-distant future.

  • Steve Banfield

    I would pay for access to ESPN on Xbox as a standalone service. Hate that I can’t get it because I don’t already pay for cable.

    • Guest

      Comcast charges $20 for “limited basic” service which includes ESPN streaming access even though it doesn’t include ESPN the channel. (You only get local channels and public-access for that price.)

      Better still, Comcast charges less if you bundle Internet and TV — even their limited basic TV — so the $20 is more like $5.

      It’s been a brilliant solution. I’m also surprised how much cross-cultural content is on their limited basic service. I even get Vancouver’s local TV affiliate!

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