September 18, 2014

Turner, March Madness app ready for NCAA tournament

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March Madness, one of the sports world’s iconic events is on the horizon and no doubt fans are already plotting out strategies to get out of the office or school to watch their favorite team attempt to advance in its bracket. However thanks to Turner Sports there is an alternative.

It has released NCAA March Madness Live, an app that will provide portable access to all of the games in the tournament, with a total of 150 hours available during the event. Even better the app will now be supported by three platforms, Apple’s iOS, Android and for the first time Microsoft as well. Now fans can use a smartphone or tablet as a second screen if at a bar or as a primary device if at work.

To use the app a fan and watch all of the matchups that will be broadcast on TNT, TBS, and truTV a fan needs to log in with their TV service provider information. Games will also be available online at various sites, including This year, NCAA March Madness Live will launch from more platforms than ever before including the NCAA March Madness page, CBS Sports, and Bleacher Report. There is no registration required for games on CBS. The app will also provide a temporary preview period giving fans access to live game streaming before login is required.

The app, Developed in partnership with the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports is a follow up to previous years’ offerings but it has made several major enhancements to the app since last year, aside from the Microsoft support.

Of importance to the fans of bracketology and seeing if they are winning in their office pool the app has a new interface that has been designed for work with the smaller screens that smartphones feature as well with the slightly larger screens on tablets. It allows users to go directly from this feature to a live game and includes broadcast times and schedules. It also has additional view modes for brackets.

The heart of the app might be the GameCenter, one of the features that has been redesigned. It is the central [point to find which games are currently live streaming as well as pre-game matchup analysis, live in-game stats, key social moments and fan chat.

To complement the enhanced features in the bracket area there is the almost obligatory bracket for fans, this one entitled Capitol One NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge. The app developers have enhanced its social media functionality as well as supporting computers as well as smartphones and tablets. It allows for the formation of groups, sharing brackets and chat via Facebook.

There is also a general chat forum called the Coke Zero NCAA March Madness Social Arena that enables fans t converse about games and other events as well as follow game tweets, post and view Instagram photos and Vine videos. Fans can participate in the social commentary by using the hashtag #marchmadness.

Understanding that some fans might want to set up schedules to just see specific matchups the app now includes a TV Schedule that helps with planning. This feature can be accessed from various other features such as game schedule or bracket and provides the round, date, time and network for each game. Also new this year is a Tournament News feature that provides news and updates as well as highlights, recaps and additional information each day.

Following the broadcasting of all of the just concluded Winter Olympic events online by NBC hopefully this is the wave of the future. While MLB enables fans to watch a huge number of games either online or on their television via a subscription model the NBA and NFL trail well behind it.

Variety of apps to support the Sochi Olympics

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NBC’s broadcast of the Olympics should be boon to its online and streaming viewership, even though this is something that the network has made available for some time. As with many apps and capabilities users often only discover them when looking for specific tool or event.

There are a surprising number of apps available for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics that will be held in Sochi starting later this week. They range from simple calendars to one that will be showing live events.

Actually this is probably not surprising but then it’s hard to say why you would want something aside from the one that is available from NBC Sports, the official broadcaster of the games. Aside from the fact that the app, NBC Sports Live Extra, is from the broadcaster it was hardly just conceived for the Olympics.

The app also provides live sports events that air on NBC, NBC Sports Network and the Golf Channel so that over the course there will be IndyCar, the PGA Tour, Premier League Soccer and the NHL to name just a few.

We have already mentioned most of the features of the app as it pertains to the Olympics but it’s good to mention that there will be 1,000 hours of live streaming video with some replay on demand capabilities. It is free to use with select caveats.

However if you are looking for different functionality there are plenty of options starting with the U.S. Olympic team’s official app. It details who has made the team, links to athletes’ social media and an up-to-date following of how they do.

Another general purpose sports app, this one with a more international flavor, which will have a special focus on the Winter Olympics, is BBC Sports. It will have live coverage of events at the games and can be used to follow a wide range of International sports.

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An interested app is the Sochi 2014 WOW (Wireless Olympics Works) that comes from Samsung Electronics, one of the major sponsors. The app is customizable so that a user can have it focus on their specific interests. Not too surprising is that it is also optimized for Samsung devices.

Mobile and online usage continues to soar for ESPN & MNF

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The Dec. 2 Seattle Seahawks 34-7 blowout of the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football was a huge broadcasting success for ESPN, it was the No. 1 program on at that time not only on cable but also over the air broadcast — and it was also a smashing hit online as that audience continues to surge.

The Saints-Seahawks broadcast was strong enough to garner a 9.7 U.S. rating, numbers that represent an average of 11,289,000 households and 15,500,000 TV viewers, according to Nielsen.

ESPN, as all broadcasters are, is working hard at expanding and enhancing its digital offerings including tablet, smartphone and PC offerings and has seen those users expand as the technology and quality of the offerings continues to increase.

A look at how it has performed this year on Monday Night Football shows how well it is succeeding in that area. It reported that across all of its platforms its NFL-focused Digital Media that includes ESPN.com, mobile Web, apps and WatchESPN it has a 27% increase in viewership compared to the same period last year, with an average minute audience of 65,000 during each broadcast.

The most recent game showed how those numbers are continuing to grow as it represented the second largest online audience ever (the first being the Eagles-Redskins from earlier this year). The game had an average minute audience of 81,000 with a total of 225,000 unique views, numbers that represent an increase of 134% and 145% over a year ago respectively.

Overall digital media at ESPN is up strongly as well, 16%, compared to last year, according to ESPN. The strongest area last week was with mobile apps, with its new SportsCenter app enjoying an audience that registered 136,000 average minute users, up 55% from last year. Its Fantasy Football app had an average audience of 148,000, up 88%. The unique viewers for both were, respectively, 7.5 million and 3.9 million.

The broadcaster expects another big Monday Night audience next week When the Cowboys play the Bears and former Bears’ player and head coach Mike Ditka gets his number retired at halftime.

MLB sees strong increase in mobile and social media demand during playoffs

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Major League Baseball had a great postseason (depending on who you were rooting for), with exciting games and strong broadcast viewership but it also experienced a great deal of success connecting online and via mobile with its fans as well.

While all of the playoffs and World Series had strong viewership during the 38-game run MLB.com saw a huge increase in fan participation, with a total of 296.4 million viewers over that period, an increase of 43% over the previous year and an average of approximately 10 million a day, according to stats from MLB.com.

In the area of live video streams MLB.com saw a very big jump in viewership, overall up 22% compared to 2012. Viewership on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones was up 30%YOY. The video was available from MLB’s broadcast partners TBS and MLB Network and was seen on Postseason.TV on MLB.com and in MLB.com At Bat.

However live video, which requires a subscription, was only the tip of the iceberg. Combined with on-demand video MLB.com had 152 million video streams representing a massive 170% increase over last year. Mobile is driving this usage with MLB.com At Bat app’s share of the total video streams delivered increased 130% compared to last year’s Postseason.

MLB’s mobile app, At Bat, saw its usage up 76% this postseason, and was opened 76.6 million times or an average of 2.5 million times a day. MLB was active on Facebook, with its team of posters recording 4,800 individual posts, which in turn had 1.4 billion impressions. The impressions were up 80% from last year. MLB also delivered 2,840 posts on Twitter at @MLB and saw an increase of 81% in retweets.

For the first time MLB.com distributed highlight clips across a wide swath of social media including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which were watched collectively 33.5 million times.

MLB.Com’s use of a wide variety of mobile and social media technologies to reach fans is obviously showing strong return interest by fans and enables fans that cannot see the games to catch highlights and information on a as it happens basis, something that will keep fans coming back for more.

March Madness Maintains Torrid Mobile Viewing Pace

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This year’s March Madness has been one of the best in over two decades in terms of television viewers but it is the best all time in terms of mobile access as increasingly fans use mobile devices to track games and video of their favorite teams or hot match ups.

The first week’s results were strong, as we recounted here, and things have not only not slowed, but as the tournament heads towards its final week viewership is increasing, even with fewer matchups to view.

The mobile and online viewership, which encompasses PCs as well as tablets and smartphones, has seen a total of 12.6 million hours of video consumed, an increase of 201% from last year with a total of 45 million live video streams for the first two weeks of the tournament, this represents a 158% increase over last year’s tournament viewership. Last year the event registered 18.3 million live video streams for the entire tournament last year.

Breaking it down to exactly what platforms are drawing the most users shows that broadband had 5 million unique visitors, up 139% while mobile apps had 3.2 million unique visitors, up 93% compared to the entire tournament last year.

If you have not viewed the games from the tournament on a mobile device but are interested there are several options. The March Madness Live app was developed in a partnership that included the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports and can be launched from CBSsports.com, NCAA.com/marchmadness or bleacherreport.com for computers and the mobile app is available from both the App Store and Google Play.

NCAA March Madness Live app has ranked No. 1 as the top sports app in the App Store and Google Play over the first two weeks of the tournament. It was also the No. 1 free app across all categories in the App Store during that same time period.

March Madness a Huge Hit with Online and Mobile Users

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To the surprise of probably no one the first round of the annual NCAA Division 1 Basketball tournament has see resounding television viewership numbers (best in 18 years), but what might pass unnoticed is how strong its mobile and online viewership is as well.

Strong actually may be understating it, in the first week viewership via PCs, smartphones and tablets accounted for 10 million hours of video stream consumed by fans accessing all of the different online digital properties showing the tournament.

The results coupled with the strong online viewership the recent London Summer Olympics enjoyed should put to rest the arguments that making live sports action available for mobile and online users will hurt television viewership that some sports leagues still adhere to.

There were 4.2 million unique visitors watching games, and what is telling about how fast this has become an alternative method to watch the event, that number represents a 161% increase from just a year ago.

Broadband users were the top consumers of video averaging 105 minutes of viewing time while the mobile segment, the smartphone and tablet users, consumed 61 minutes per user.

The mobile aspect of this is increasingly important. Mobile viewers represented for 43% of live video streams on Thursday, 48% on Friday, 59% on Saturday and 60% on Sunday. These numbers both show how important reaching mobile users and that by addressing them how an event can expand its viewership by reaching fans that might be at work and prohibited from using work PCs to view or people that are out and about but still want to catch a game. Hopefully others, such as the NFL, will take this to heart and make more games available online.