Stream The World Cup

Recently I wrote about streaming movies on demand. I’m interested in this not because I care overmuch whether content is “streamed” or “downloaded.” Rather, what I desire is “deliver the content I want, when I want it, where I want it, with a minimum of effort.” Today I had another encounter with The Futureā„¢ that I think is worth mentioning.

It happened when I was driving into the city during the early World Cup game today. I sort of wanted to be able to listen to the game. My first instinct was to use the XM radio installed in my car. I haven’t kept my XM subscription up, because I generally prefer the music on my iPod or iPhone. But, I thought to myself, perhaps i can activate XM for this month, just for the World Cup, and then cancel when it’s over. When I arrived at my destination, I looked into this option.

In order to do this, I went to XM’s web site, which was a mistake. What I learned from their web site is that they can’t actually tell me how much their service costs, and if I want to buy it I have to type in my credit card and a bunch of numbers identifying my radio, and so on.

As I was looking all this stuff up on my iPhone, a question suddenly popped into my head: “Gee, I wonder if ESPN has an app that does this?” Sure enough, within 30 seconds I had downloaded ESPN’s free 2010 World Cup app. 10 seconds after that, I had made an in-app purchase - for about $8 - that gave me access to streaming audio for all 64 World Cup games. No typing in my credit card numbers, no creating an account, no recurring subscription, no email confirmations. One tap to download the app, entering my iTunes password, one tapping “yes” to agree to the in-app purchase, and one tapping “Yes” to confirm the charge. Within 1 minute I was listening to Argentina tussle with Nigeria.

That is how I want my digital transactions to work. If you are selling a similar service, and it’s more work for your customer than that, you are doing it wrong.