USA Today launches enhanced sports weekly app


While I often read USA Today online I did not realize that it had a separate sports app called USA Today Sports Weekly that is available for free from iTunes, Amazon Kindle and Google Play, and which has just been upgraded to include new interactive features.

USA Today said that the revamp was due to the changing viewership habits of its readers which are continually moving from the print copy to digital versions.

The app will feature pretty much what a user would expect from USA Today with coverage of all of the major pro and college leagues with a heavy emphasis on the NFL as well as a solid influx of news from international sports and leagues. There will be editorials, opinion pieces and polls and it will handle fantasy sports including tips and advice.

A new feature that came out with the latest rev is called Stream and it is a social feature that in real time enables a crowd sourced stream of user suggested sports news feed. It also enables users easily cut and send or save articles that interest them. This will be moderated by the community.

There are few things that a prospective user should be aware of if they download the free app, since it has that little + sign next to it, which means in app purchases ahead. The app itself is just a shell, like an embedded e-reader. To actually get the copy for each week requires an in-app purchase, which starts at $2.99 for a single issue. A three-month subscription will run a user $12.99 while the six-month version is $17.99 and the full year is $38.99. Each week provides a preview so that if you are looking just for one that focuses on a specific event or issue, say the NFL Draft, you can find that out prior to purchasing.

I will be interested to see how well the subscription model does for USA Today. While I read the publication’s sports section I also know that there are plenty of free alternatives on the web, ranging from local newspapers up to ESPN. In an age where you can find any number of dedicated bloggers that covers an issue very closely such as NFL cap issues and make their findings available for free why would someone pay for a generalists view?

MLB delivers daily fantasy game in partnership with DraftKings


In the past Major League Baseball once denounced daily fantasy baseball games as gambling, implying that no skill was involved, but that has changed as baseball has teamed with fantasy sports contest provider DraftKings for an offering that launches with the upcoming season.

The Official Mini Fantasy Game of is a free one-day fantasy league that can be entered daily and offers fans the ability to win tickets to regular season games, the 2014 All-Star Game and a 2014 World Series game. There are a total of four grand prizes, two each to the All-Star and World Series as well as a number of other prizes.

Players get a $50,000 salary cap and then select from a field of players that has 10 position players who can accumulate points (or lose them) by accomplishing select actions such as +5 points for a stolen base and +2 points for each strike out a pitcher earns. There will be several different offerings including a daily Official Fantasy Contest and a weekly Friday Home Team contest among others.

DraftKings specializes in creating what it calls daily leagues, ones that you can play and then quit, none of this following a fantasy baseball team for a season trying to convince a fellow owner to trade his star starting pitcher for your broken down LOOGY.

Its system is simple and has the potential to be lucrative for users. It has both free and paid contests in which participants select individuals to make up a team, watch how they perform that day and if they perform the best you can win cash. DraftKings is currently running several contests including a March Madness one. It offers contests in five major sports: MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA and the PGA. It offers a wide variety of contests from head-to-head to qualifiers.

This will be interesting to see how this pans out on many levels. Lotteries have tried to have sports offerings and most of the major league teams have fought against them. States, led by New Jersey, have then fought back, so far unsuccessfully. Now a league is endorsing it as a skill event and that could lead to an easing of other leagues’ dislike of this type of activity.

MLB Sets One-Day ‘Beat the Streak’ Contest With $5.6 Million Prize

Fantasy baseball game alert — Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media department is staging a one-day contest on Friday, Sept. 28, with a potential $5.6 million prize for the person who can correctly pick 57 major league baseball players who will get a hit in a game on Friday. If you go 57-for-57, MLBAM will award you $5.6 million. Sign up here.

Why is this contest being staged? Mainly because nobody has been able to win the big “Beat the Streak” prize in the contest’s 12 years of existence. As the MLBAM said in a press release:

We tried to give millions of dollars away. We have really tried. Again. However, it is with a sense of anguish that today we announce for the 12th consecutive season no fan will achieve fantasy baseball immortality by surpassing the legendary consecutive games hitting streak record of 56 and claiming a $5.6 million grand prize in the process. Maybe it is harder than originally envisioned when we debuted Beat The Streak in 2001 with a $10,000 grand prize.

Look to Mobile Apps to Stay Competitive in Fantasy Baseball

With the second start to this year’s MLB season, and I am still not sure what the league gained by starting last week in Japan followed by a long layoff, all fantasy teams should be in place for the long haul to October greatness.

However the fact that the draft is completed means that only the first step is finished, and then comes the monitoring of teams and players, keeping a hawk eye not only on the waiver wire and the injury report, but also how your own roster is performing so that gaps and shortcomings in a lineup can be repaired quickly and efficiently.

I still know one or two people that primarily use one source for all of their information, but with the growing number of sites that are available it makes sense to have multiple sources for data, and to have an app or two loaded in your smartphone or tablet so that you can react instantly.

Most of these are available on both Android and Apple’s iOS. One or two are available on a BlackBerry and I did not find any that specified Windows Phone, although I imagine that will change in a year.

These are in no particular order and with that we will start with Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball ’12. Many fans are familiar with this free app and a few new features have been added including Facebook and Google logins as well as features such as real time score updates and player stats.

Another I am sure most are very familiar with is ESPN’s free Fantasy Baseball app, although when you say free there is a pay option of sorts. The basic app gives you team management, the ability to accept or reject trades from other managers and a host of news, tweets and video from ESPN’s Fantasy Baseball analysts.

If you are an ESPN Insider, or want to join for the extra features you also get push notifications when players are benched or are send to the DL. It also has exclusive video and news from the ESPN team. For those looking towards next year it is good to remember that it also has Spring Training notes so get the app early. A user must have an ESPN Fantasy Baseball team.

Fox Sports is not about to be left out in the cold on this and has a new version of Fox Fantasy Baseball. It allows you to join an established Fox league or form a private one with customizable rules and offers a variety of scoring systems including rotisserie and head-to-head.

The app allows a great deal of league customization with leagues ranging from four to 20 teams and a variety of draft, trading, and score keeping options available.

CBSSports.Com has its Fantasy Baseball app that has three different main settings. For the casual fan or those new to a fantasy league there is a setting for you, and you can organize a league or enter into an established one.

At the second level, called Premium Games, a player can win up to $3,500. This has four levels of participation, in part determined by the fan’s experience and the entry fee that they wish to pay, with fee’s for a first team ranging from $29.99 for the $150 prize to $499.99 for the $3,500 prize. Cash prizes awarded to the winner of each ten team league.

For the experienced that want a customized experience there is the Commissioner- where you can set customized rules for the league, rosters draft format and a variety of other features. CBSSports offers a range of apps that will work with the league.

We have already covered Bloomberg Sports Front Office 2012 here so all I will say is that it is a very full featured app that covers a wide range of areas that fans would want or need information about players or teams.

For those that are late or waiting until the first week of the season to hold their draft there is GlassWareMobile’s Fantasy Baseball Draft Wizard for Android. While not specifically for stat heads it helps to understand simple terms such as VORP. It provides three years of stats for players and gives dynamic adjustments to players’ value in real time.

Roto Sports RotoWire Fantasy Draft Kit 2012 is another place to go for the draft information that you need. You enter your league parameters and it will generate a draft either based on player rankings or dollar vaue. It contains 2012 projectsions for over 1,000 players and continuously updates them

Interested in tracking minor league players in case you are in a league that allows September call-ups to count? Try MiLB.Com Triple-A 2012. No video on the $4.99 app but it has pitch by pitch tracking for the International and Pacific Coast League teams as well as standings schedules and other information.

For those that do not bother tracking minor league players you do not know what you are missing. I love how some guy in a windswept PCL team will come to the majors with gaudy numbers that just do not translate well the MLB parks and pitching. This is a way to stay ahead, especially if your league requires a rookie each year.

There is just about something for everybody here, aside from operating system limitations. Most but not all are free, a positive price in my mind, and deliver and increasing array of information to fans. I would be interested to hear any pros or cons on these apps from any users out there.