ESPN adds SharePlay compatibility

ESPN’s iPhone and iPad apps are rolling out support for Apple’s SharePlay experience.

SharePlay debuted with iOS and iPadOS 15.1 and allows users with compatible devices to watch and listen to content together via the company’s existing FaceTime video calling technology.

Initially rolling out on iPhone and iPad, the SharePlay experience is also planned to become part of ESPN’s Apple TV offering in the future. It will work across ESPN’s free video content, TV Everywhere and premium ESPN+ content.

Integrating with SharePlay gives users the ability to enjoy a synched viewing experience. For sports content, this specifically means that everyone on the call can cheer on their favorite teams and react to plays in realtime.

One big drawback of the ESPN SharePlay integration, which isn’t uncommon among compatible content providers, is that everyone on the call must be authenticated via TVE or have a valid ESPN+ subscription to participate in live streams and premium content that’s locked behind those logins.

In other words, it can’t serve as a backdoor way to share premium content with friends and family. 

Up to 32 people can participate in a single SharePlay experience. Localization features allow each user to select their own subtitles or language for audio, where available. 

SharePlay is notably distinct from Apple’s AirPlay, which lets users wirelessly beam video content from compatible Apple devices to smart televisions, streaming devices and game consoles. It’s a common way for users to stream content from mobile devices, tablets and even laptops to larger screens, such as those installed in a living or conference room.