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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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