Stream ESPN Live and In Full on Your iPhone

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David Lynch says you’ll never really watch a movie on your phone, but what about full-on 24/7 ESPN sports events?

ESPN already breaks off bits of its live shows for occasional phone-based palm-gawking via an app drably dubbed ESPN Mobile TV. So what do you call the app that lets you simply stream ESPN live?

WatchESPN, of course, and it’s available now, gratis, for iPods, iPhones, and iPads (with plans to expand to other phones and tablets–presumably Android OS-based–at some point soon).

Not just ESPN live, either, but the main channel plus ESPN2, broadband-only ESPN3, and college-angled ESPNU. You authenticate by entering your cable subscription details.

The catch, and you knew there’d be one, is that you have to subscribe to either Verizon FIOS, Time Warner cable, or Bright House, though we hear ESPN plans to expand beyond those soon.

So yeah, kind of a buzzkill. We live in an app-centric world. ESPN apparently wants us to live in an app-shackled-to-cable one. The timing’s right: We’ve got the Masters, Major League Baseball, and the NBA playoffs in the offing, but alas, the app’s only piggybacking off the converted.

I don’t have a home cable package because I stream Netflix and Hulu instead. I couldn’t get Verizon FIOS in my area, so for Internet access I’m using AT&T U-Verse–basically the same thing, though WatchESPN’s a no-go on AT&T for ESPN3 streaming. Even if I wanted to pay ESPN extra, say a monthly fee for the app, as I’d expect to, it’s not an option.

That’s too bad, because selling ESPN as a multi-medium service (instead of one that’s subsidiary to cable) is the only way ESPN’s getting any money from me.