With training camps opening around the country and the new football season set to kickoff later this summer, Microsoft is making its Xbox One console a destination for football lovers with an updated NFL Xbox One app and more.
Microsoft discussed the landmark changes coming to the NFL on Xbox One app this past weekend with Polygon, and they’re huge for anyone looking to check on their favorite teams or play a video game while still keeping track of all the action that’s happening.
Millions of users love building a custom team of players through fantasy leagues and competing against their friends. They’re called fantasy leagues, and before each season users flock to websites like ESPN and Yahoo to build their own custom teams to take them through the season. Last year’s NFL on Xbox One app allowed users to track their fantasy team’s stats by snapping the NFL on Xbox One app to the side of their screen.
That’s getting significantly better with this updated NFL on Xbox One app. Microsoft isn’t ready to talk about which sites it is adding yet for some reason, but it did confirm that there are plans to make the NFL on Xbox One app interact with more fantasy leagues than just the one powered by NFL.com. That’s great since the app’s fantasy league tracking functionality was something pretty unique to the Xbox One. Microsoft says these new providers will be available in the NFL on Xbox One app before the football season officially starts. ESPN has separately confirmed that the NFL on Xbox One app will have integration with its fantasy football system this year.
Tracking stats is great and all, but of course, nothing is going to be as good as streaming video. That’s where the second major feature addition coming to NFL on Xbox One comes into play. Around a month ago DirecTV announced that it’d be revamping its Sunday Ticket video service and introducing paid tiers separate from its satellite services. NFL on Xbox One will have what Polygon is characterizing as “full integration with NFL Sunday Ticket.” In short, presumably, users will be able to drop their NFL Sunday Ticket information into the app and watch games live, just like they would if the Xbox One had a standalone NFL Sunday Ticket app.
The NFL Now streaming service that the National Football League announced some time ago will also be supported. Unlike NFL Sunday Ticket, it’s free for users to watch video highlights. The NFL hasn’t disclosed how much unlimited access to archived footage will cost through NFL Now.
To be clear, users still need a cable subscription for the best experience. Having one, or NFL Sunday Ticket makes the app come alive. It’s not required though, and users who don’t have a cable or satellite subscription will still see highlights and still be able to track their team.
If streaming video updates weren’t enough, Microsoft has also updated the multitasking experience for those using NFL on Xbox One. The previous version of the app allowed users to snap NFL on Xbox One to the side of their screen and watch movies or play games. It was innovative for sure, but Microsoft clearly feels that it wasn’t delivering the best experience it could. This year’s version of NFL on Xbox One will send users notifications of big plays. Once users see that notification they can act on it to get a video highlight of that big play within a few minutes of that play actually happening.
This year’s biggest feature addition, isn’t even directly related to the updates being made to this app. Last fall, Microsoft required that users have an Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to download and use entertainment applications like NFL on Xbox One. That’s no longer the case, meaning anyone with an Xbox One can take advantage of NFL on Xbox One’s fantasy team tracking and video highlights.
Microsoft is highlighting the NFL on Xbox One app, but there’s a separate version of the app users should stay on the lookout for too. Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system has its own NFL experience on the way again this year.