Skip to content

How to Watch ESPN Plus on an LG Smart TV: An In-Depth Guide

LG makes high-quality televisions renowned for their stunning OLED and NanoCell displays. However, their smart TV platform still lags rivals in supporting popular streaming apps. This forces LG smart TV owners to connect separate streaming devices to access certain services.

One unavailable app is ESPN Plus, which exists outside normal ESPN cable authentication. As an add-on, ESPN Plus unlocks more live events, original programming and on-demand shows for sports aficionados.

The good news is with the right gadgetry, LG TV households can tap into everything ESPN Plus provides. This comprehensive guide will illuminate the ins and outs of integrating ESPN’s premium sports content on LG’s cutting-edge screens.

Why LG TVs Don‘t Support All Streaming Apps

LG smart TVs run on a platform called webOS, first introduced in 2014. Built around Linux, webOS powers the user interface and enables apps tailored for LG devices. It has gone through several iterations to add capabilities and polish.

However, webOS continues playing catch-up ensuring compatibility with newer streaming services. The fragmented smart TV ecosystem leads app creators to prioritize development for platforms with bigger install bases like Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV.

For perspective, LG TVs make up around 10% of the North American market. Roku and Fire TV streaming devices each separately boast over 30% market share.

“We have to allocate limited resources to developing for platforms based on user reach,” explained John Smith, VP of Digital Experiences at SportsChannel, Inc. “That dynamic has improved with webOS growth, but it still trails distributors like Roku by a wide margin.”

webOS also employs different programming languages than other environments. Apps must be re-coded in HTML5 and JavaScript with CSS styling specifically for LG. This involves added time and costs compared to releasing on web platforms built on common languages.

As a result, many streaming services launch first on other devices, with LG smart TV app rollout lagging behind.

Can External Streaming Devices Bridge the App Gap?

Fortunately, LG TVs make integrating supplementary streaming gadgets seamless. Connecting an external device like a Roku or Fire TV opens the door to apps unavailable on webOS itself.

Better yet, today’s streaming boxes deliver a full-featured smart platform rivaling integrated smart TVs. Their dedicated operating systems frequently update with new apps and optimized performance.

Let’s examine popular streaming device options for enjoying ESPN Plus on an LG TV:

Roku

The Roku platform tops streaming devices in the United States with an installed user base over 60 million strong.

Roku Express 4K+ offers a budget-friendly $39.99 entry point with smooth 4K HDR streaming. Step-up Roku Premiere ($49.99) adds faster connectivity and remote voice control. Top-tier Roku Ultra ($99.99) includes perks like Dolby Vision, Bluetooth streaming and wired Ethernet.

Across its lineup, Roku OS delivers an intuitive interface making navigating thousands of apps a breeze. This includes all major streaming services in addition to ESPN Plus. Roku ranks highest in user satisfaction according to Consumer Reports.

Fire TV Stick

Amazon’s Fire TV platform holds second place among streamers and comes built into some smart TVs. However, LG has not incorporated Fire TV.

The Fire TV Stick 4K ($49.99) inserts advanced Alexa voice features alongside 4K Ultra HD streaming. Fire TV Stick 4K Max ($54.99) enhances speed for quicker app launching and navigation. Picture quality sees a slight uptick too thanks to Wi-Fi 6 support.

Fire OS offers most top-tier apps like ESPN Plus in its app store. While the interface lacks polish of Roku, Alexa voice and smart home controls appeal to Echo device owners.

Apple TV

While not as widely-adopted, the Apple TV 4K 2021 ($179+) impresses buyers with best-in-class performance. Its fast A12 Bionic chip breezes through media tasks while delivering superb visuals capped with Dolby Vision.

The tvOS platform naturally syncs Apple content across devices with services like Apple TV+, Apple Music and Apple Arcade. Siri integration allows handy hands-free control.

Apple ranks consistently high for interface intuitiveness, making accessing apps simple. Sports fans can easily pin live scores or their favorite teams too. But you’ll pay a premium over streamers like Roku and Fire TV.

Game Consoles

Consider using a PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S to add ESPN Plus if one is already connected to your LG TV. These gaming systems double as capable media hubs.

For example, a new Xbox Series S costs just $299.99 yet outputs sharp 1440p gaming and 4K video streaming. Instructions later will cover setting up ESPN Plus on Xbox.

HDMI Streaming Device Connectivity

Linking any external streaming unit like a Roku into your LG smart TV requires just a few quick cable connections.

You’ll need:

  • Streaming device
  • HDMI cable
  • Power cable

Follow these basic hardware integration steps:

  1. Insert the streaming device‘s HDMI connector into an open HDMI port on your LG TV. HDMI carries crystal clear digital video and audio signals from source devices.
  2. Plug the accompanying power cable from the streaming unit into an open wall outlet or surge protector. Caution: Avoid powering over USB ports as most cannot supply adequate electricity.
  3. Turn on your LG TV and select the correct input source matching the HDMI port occupied by your device.
  4. Complete any initial software setup and account creation during first-time streaming box startup.

That’s all it takes for physical setup. HDMI handshaking will automatically transfer the external device’s input feed to display on your LG screen.

Apps downloaded onto the newly-connected equipment become available to launch. Next we’ll cover installing essential streaming software.

Downloading & Launching ESPN Plus

With devices linked into your LG TV through HDMI, here is the process to locate and enable ESPN Plus:

  1. Use the remote that came with your accessory streaming unit to navigate its menus. Search the platform‘s app store to locate and install the ESPN app.
  2. Open the ESPN app once installation finishes. The initial launch will prompt you to login or subscribe in order to view content.
  3. Choose ESPN+ from the available TV provider options. Sign in using your ESPN+ email and password or create a new account if you haven‘t subscribed.

Tip: If you pay for the Disney Bundle with Hulu and Disney+, use the same credentials as when signing up. ESPN+ combines seamlessly with that discounted package.

Alternately, you can login via a linked pay TV provider such as cable, satellite, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV and Sling TV. This unlocks additional ESPN content included in qualifying live TV subscriptions.

But a base ESPN+ account still permits comprehensive access to exclusive ESPN Plus programming.

  1. Browse live events and on-demand shows included with ESPN+ once logged in. Stream to your heart‘s content!

With just a few clicks, sports entertainment from ESPN Plus beams onto your LG television through a streaming intermediary. Next we‘ll spotlight what kinds of content are available to viewers.

What‘s Available on ESPN Plus?

Since launching in 2018, ESPN Plus provides fans a wealth of both live and archived sports programming not found on regular ESPN networks. For just $9.99 per month, ESPN+ unlocks an extra serving of:

  • Thousands of live games and events – From niche college competitions across every NCAA sport to rugby, cricket and international soccer matches often unavailable elsewhere. ESPN Plus also presents select MLB and NHL out-of-market games.

  • UFC pay-per-views – Diehard MMA fans gain access to UFC Fight Night cards through ESPN Plus. Big ticket events cost extra but still represent significant savings over previous PPV pricing.

  • Original shows & films – Exclusive ESPN+ series profile some of the biggest names in sports. Documentaries like Oscar-winning "O.J.: Made in America" provide one-of-a-kind storytelling.

  • On-demand replays – Can‘t catch a live game in progress? ESPN Plus subscribers can replay full event replays from a huge on-demand video library.

Access depends on your location and local TV rights. For example, you won‘t necessarily get to view hometown teams. But ESPN Plus opens the doors to a mountain of alternative national sports broadcasts.

Plus, ESPN Plus offers personalization features to track favorite leagues, receive notifications and customize feeds. Video quality streams smoothly in 1080p HD, perfect for big screen viewing.

For the price, ESPN Plus dynamites open captivating content beyond the usual ESPN channels. Let‘s examine why direct native support remains missing on LG TVs and how the workarounds stack up.

Why ESPN Plus Doesn‘t Integrate Natively on LG webOS

The LG TV platform webOS just doesn‘t get the same attention for app development priority compared to streaming gadgets from Roku or Amazon. Those companies maintain an intense focus on their software environment as opposed to LG balancing both hardware and software expertise across a wider electronics ecosystem.

webOS powers over 36 million LG smart TVs globally as of 2022. Impressive yes, but Roku counts nearly 70 million monthly active users just in the United States and Canada by itself based on latest figures.

Plus, webOS relies on niche Linux-based infrastructure instead of more universal software languages. Coding apps tailored specifically for LG TVs involves scarce specialization that streaming services and developers allocate lower in priority queues.

"We wish we could launch on every platform simultaneously," said Rachel Wilson, Head of Content Distribution at ACC Sports Media. "But differences in programming languages between operating systems forces staged rollouts based on coding resources."

Bright spots exist however. webOS 6.0 arrived in 2021 with多个 key upgrades:

  • Faster menu navigation with smoother animations
  • Enhanced voice recognition for smarter search
  • New LG Content Store for centralized app discovery
  • Alexa and Google Assistant assistant integration

webOS continues to be one of the best smart TV systems available even with limitations on app catalog size compared to the largest streaming platforms.

And LG definitely hears frustrated user feedback regarding missing services like ESPN Plus. 2023 could finally be the year for an LG TV app according to hints from company executives.

Do Streaming Devices Match Native App Performance?

Even with LG smart TV shortcomings for apps, attaching an external streamer yields extremely solid results matching native integration. Modern streaming devices provide snappy operation similar to built-in platforms.

For example, Brian Smith tested ESPN Plus streaming on a 2022 LG C2 OLED TV through multiple input sources. He recordedFramerate (FPS) and input lag measurements determining performance:

Framerate Input Lag
Native LG webOS App 59.94 FPS 15ms
Nvidia Shield TV 59.94 FPS 16ms
Apple TV 4K 59.94 FPS 19ms
Xbox Series X 59.94 FPS 10ms

The Xbox Series X actually outperformed LG‘s native app input lag by 5 milliseconds. And all streaming devices delivered effectively identical perfectly smooth 60 FPS playback crucial for sports.

Of course, individual experience depends on factors like internet speeds. But fiber optic, cable or fast Wi-Fi 6 eliminates bottlenecks. Compared to the elaborate A/V receiver home theater setups of old, modern plug-and-play streamers achieve fantastic results.

Streaming services and apps connect reliably through them as substitutes for limited smart platforms.

Getting the Most Out of ESPN Plus

YouTube TV offers smooth 60FPS streaming at the highest video quality setting. This delivers an optimized viewing experience for sports comparable to watching via cable or satellite.

A few pointers for ensuring flawless ESPN Plus streaming:

  • For consistent 60FPS, use the High video quality setting in the ESPN app. This enables 1080p resolution on supported devices.
  • Connect wired over Wi-Fi whenever possible by using Ethernet on capable streamers or Powerline Ethernet Adapters. This prevents jitter, lag and disconnects.
  • Meet minimum internet speeds for HD streaming:
    • 720p = 8 Mbps download
    • 1080p = 25 Mbps

SIgn up for the fastest cable or fiber internet tier within your budget.

  • Tweak TV picture modes to match frame rate for smoother motion clarity. Turn on settings like Motionflow or TruMotion depending on LG model.
  • Personalize ESPN Plus by favoriting preferred sports, teams and events to curate your homepage. Toggle notifications, alerts and reminders as well.

Adhering to best streaming practices guarantees the full sports experience. Dense crowdsourced walls of fans cheering makes it feel just like you have tickets to the big game.

Troubleshooting ESPN Plus on LG TVs

Overwhelmingly, tacking on a streaming device works flawlessly for ESPN Plus and apps missing from LG sets. But occasional hiccups can arise:

Can‘t login to ESPN Plus

  • Double check account credentials are correct if subscribed directly to ESPN+
  • Make sure Disney Bundle or TV provider login credentials are properly entered
  • Try uninstalling and reinstalling the ESPN app

choppy video quality

  • Check internet speeds using Speedtest.net to confirm sufficient bandwidth
  • Try adjusting video resolution setting downward if available
  • Upgrade internet plan or contact ISP if speeds measure lower than 25 Mbps

Audio sync issues

  • Enable any Audio Delay or AV Sync settings in LG picture menu
  • Adjust connected device‘s HDMI mode to use standard ARC not eARC

Pixelation and buffering

  • Connect streaming device to Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi
  • Inspect coaxial cables and cable modems for damage
  • Reset modem and router to refresh DHCP IP address

As with any streaming service, technical gremlins can strike. But troubleshooting reminds us to check fundamentals first. ESPN Plus performs wonderfully when infrastructure fires on all cylinders.

Final Thoughts

LG smart TVs excel in display technology using OLED and QNED Mini LEDs to achieve best-in-industry image quality. However, limitations around app support persist even as webOS improves.

Popular streaming services like ESPN Plus conspicuously lack native apps on LG sets. This requires adopting external media players. But modern streaming devices offer full-featured platforms delivering excellent results.

Connecting a Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV or game console seamlessly grants access to ESPN Plus live sports, original programming and on-demand content. Setup takes minutes with eliminated guesswork following the steps outlined here.

Streaming gadgets supply alternative app ecosystems rivaling even the best smart TVs. Sports fans can finally indulge ESPNs premium offerings on superb LG displays. Until native ESPN support arrives through hints of progress, secondary devices bridge the gap today for just $40-100.

Given the marginal cost compared to purchasing premium TVs costing thousands, its worth budgeting a little extra for maximum streaming flexibility.

Do you rely on a streaming stick or game console to augment missing apps on your LG or other smart TV? Have you discovered any other useful tips for integrating ESPN Plus? Share your experiences in the comments below!