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Chromecast gets sporty with ESPN, soccer apps


Sarah Tew/CNET

Google appears to have caught World Cup fever. The company announced Tuesday that it’s rolling out a couple of new sports apps and some other features for its Chromecast video-streaming dongle.

“Soccer, fútbol, football, jogo bonito — however you say it, there’s a good chance you’ll be tuning in to watch when the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off next week,” Google’s Chromecast Sports Partnerships lead Brad Foreman wrote in a blog post. “But if you’re not lucky enough to have a ticket to the matches in Brazil, you can enjoy the next best thing right in your living room with Chromecast.”

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The sporting apps include WatchESPN and Major League Soccer. WatchESPN lets Chromecast users — who also already receive ESPN networks through their cable, satellite, or pay-TV subscription — watch all 64 of the World Cup games live on their televisions. The app also lets users tune in to other sporting events ESPN broadcasts. The MLS “Matchday” app and MLS LIVE premium services let users watch professional soccer matchups before game day.

Google is also adding a couple of other features to Chromecast today. One is Google+ Photos, which lets users cast their personal photos and videos onto their TVs; and the other is a Crunchyroll app, which hosts more than 25,000 Japanese anime, Korean drama, and live-action videos.

Initially, Google was slow to add apps to its $35 dongle, but now the device hosts a multitude of them. In February, the company opened up Chromecast to outside developers and worked with popular online-media companies to expand the number of compatible apps. By March, Google had expanded its apps to also include the video service Crackle, music-streaming service Rdio, and movie-and-TV digital shop Vudu.

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