Google Fiber is enabling subscribers to take some of their favorite cable television viewing on the road with the introduction of two new mobile apps that will let customers watch ESPN and Disney programming from anywhere via smartphones and tablets.
"It's the 5th time your kids have asked 'are we there yet?' from the back seat—but it looks like traffic isn't going to ease up any time soon," wrote Larry Yang, Google Fiber's product manager, in an Oct. 16 post on the Google Fiber Blog. "Wouldn't it be amazing if you could just use your phone or tablet to summon their favorite sports and TV shows, right there in your car?"
That's exactly what Google Fiber TV customers can do immediately, using the new WatchESPN and WATCH Disney apps to stream available content to smartphones and tablets anywhere in the United States at no extra cost, according to Yang.
WatchESPN provides live access to eight networks, including live events and all of ESPN's sports and studio shows (including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater), according to Yang. To receive the content, users can log in with their Google Fiber account, visit WatchESPN.com or download the WatchESPN app from Google Play or the App Store on your Xbox 360 or on Apple TV, he wrote.
Similarly, the WATCH Disney app provides live access to the Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD networks. Fiber subscribers can go to WatchDisneyChannels.com and log in using their Google Fiber username and password.
The new app services are available to all Fiber users as long as they have a Fiber TV package, according to a Google spokesperson who asked not to be named. While viewing using the apps will be available throughout the United States, local blackouts on ESPN content may apply, the spokesperson said.
The new apps for these specific networks are just a start, with more apps and network content to come for mobile users, the spokesperson said. "We're going to keep working to make Fiber better for users, and make even more content available to them."
Google Fiber is so far available to an expanding number of residents in Kansas City, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Provo, Utah, with service slated for installation and operation in other locations, including Austin, Texas.
Pricing for Google Fiber is $120 per month in the first service areas, including Gigabit Internet and digital cable television with over 200 high-definition channels, according to the company. Gigabit Internet service without Google Fiber TV is $70 per month, but does not include the free use of the mobile apps for ESPN and Disney.
Google Fiber's ultra-high-speed Internet and cable television services debuted in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., in the fall of 2012. In April 2013, Google announced that it would bring the service to Provo, just eight days after it unveiled plans to bring Google Fiber to Austin. The Provo project was the third U.S. community to be slated for Fiber service. Other cities, including Prairie Village, Kan., Mission Hills, Kan., and Roeland Park, Kan., have also recently approved service plans for Google Fiber.
Earlier this week, a proposed Google Fiber deployment in Overland Park, Kan., was put on hold indefinitely by the company after the city's government delayed action on the plans in September. City officials last month had raised a last-minute liability concern with the pending deal, and Google apparently lost patience with the city, despite the government's decision to approve the pending deal at this week's meeting. The Overland Park case appears to be the first time that a community had delayed a decision on Fiber after their discussions with the company, and the first time that Google has then put its original plans on hold just before a decision was scheduled for a final vote.
A Google spokesperson who asked for anonymity told eWEEK that the company was surprised by last month's delay by city leaders. The company's hold on the project in Overland Park could at some point change, according to Google.
Early results from the Kansas City rollout have been promising for Google Fiber based on Internet speed ratings reported by Netflix each month. Based on the small but growing deployment Google Fiber has in Kansas City, the service continues to be ranked No. 1 for Internet speeds across the nation, compared with competitors, according to the Netflix numbers. In the latest September 2013 figures from Netflix, Google Fiber is listed at a 3.41M-bps average speed, compared with 2.59M bps for its nearest rival, Cablevision Optimum.