In June, Microsoft and ESPN announced a deal to bring over 3,500 live events a year to Xbox LIVE gold members via the Xbox 360 console. For the past week I've been testing the offering on my Xbox and overall, it's a pretty nice service. Content includes both live and on-demand videos of college basketball, college football, soccer, MLB, NBA, tennis tournaments and golf majors amongst others.
The videos are the same ones you get from ESPN3.com providing your ISP has cut a licensing deal with ESPN. (Here is a list of all the current ISPs that have a license with ESPN) The quality of both live and on-demand content looks good on a 50" screen and maxes out at 720p. Buffering on my FiOS connection is very quick and live events start within a second. In addition to the live events, ESPN has a ton of on-demand content including shows like SportsCenter.
The ESPN offering is part of a new dashboard upgrade for the Xbox which also includes an improved Netflix streaming app and a lot more
movies and TV shows available for rental via the Zune video channel.
Overall, the quality and selection of the content with ESPN is pretty good. The one thing I like about the offering is that it allows you to get content to your TV that's only available online, without having to use your computer or connect it to your TV. Microsoft isn't giving out the exact date when the new dashboard update with ESPN will launch, but did say it will be available just prior to Kinect being available, which is only about a month away.
I didn't have time to film the new Netflix functionality in the new dashboard, but you can check out a video of it over at Joystiq.