updates website, enhances Twitter feed


Real time sports news aggregator has extended its feature set with a redesign that has several additional features including one that will enable a fan to follow the Twitter feed from beat reporters on both sides of a rivalry.

While currently a fan can have a Twitter stream that includes two or more beat reporters Sportsmanias has gone a step further and enables a fan to have them run side by side, enabling them to run as dual streams so that there is no need to sort the wheat from the chaff.

This is just one of the improvements from the startup that was founded just last year and so far has raised $1 million in venture funding. It has both website and app that serves as a news aggregator for all major U.S. sports including NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and the NCAA. In addition it covers a wide variety of domestic and international soccer news, teams and leagues. The news feed that a user gets can be customized to meet their sporting preferences down to individual teams, along with players’ twitter and social media feeds.

The company allows fans to follow sports events in different fashions. If they are in attendance at the sporting event they can use the Sportsmanias News Feed App to follow along to the action both in front of them as well as elsewhere while at home they can use the dual tweet feature to explain what might be obvious to fans at the events but not ones that are limited to what the broadcaster is showing.

The overall look and feel of the web site has been simplified in the latest redesign; along with faster load times so that there is as little lag between events and updates as possible. The site now has simplified graphics and easier, more intuitive navigation capabilities. It has also enhanced its rumor section.

Mobile and online usage continues to soar for ESPN & MNF


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, 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.

New MLB app lets fans develop GM skills


Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media Group has taken the wraps off of its latest mobile game as the league is now looking to maintain fan interest and mindshare into in the off season with the release of Franchise MVP.

Baseball fans are often known for their following of not just the major league team but all of its affiliates in the minors from short season A teams to AAA as well as Winter League and other off season contests, and this game will appeal to them. Franchise MVP covers not only the pro level but actually starts at the Class A level and includes 120 teams that are in both MLB and MiLB and enables the user to be both a player working his way up to the bigs but also as a manager.

Starting out the user decides on a wide variety of topics and how to apply them such as training and what type, as well as in game decisions for the mini-game simulations. As skills and ability improve the players moves up levels and helps teams win. As the player progresses he earns currency that can be used to buy addition gear, skills and training equipment

In its press release MLB’s vice president of gaming Jamie Leece said “We built this game to be a fun graft of simulation baseball and player development strategies,” Anyone who has sat around with more than two baseball fans knows that these are topics that are very popular.

The app, which is available for free for Apple iPad and iPhones joins a number of other programs that have been developed by MLBAM including MLB Ballpark Empire and Home Run Derby. It would be fun if the league made some that included some of the historical but now gone leagues like the Arizona-Mexican League or just any of the Class B, C or D leagues.

SideDraft App Designed for Peer-to-Peer NFL Fantasy Betting


So you have won your NFL Fantasy League for 2 years running and are now looking for greater fields for your talent? Then you might give a new mobile app, SideDraft, a try and see how you do with the cash prizes as the goal at the end of the rainbow.

The app, slated to be released Sept. 17 by Blue Ox Entertainment, is a departure from traditional fantasy football programs in that a player’s lineup is different each week, or against each new opponent, so while your powerhouse team may not be able to dominate for a season, conversely if several of your star players turn out to be monumental busts you are not stuck with them for 16 games either.

A player funds his account and then SideDraft has a player draft each week. A player selects a payout that can range from nothing to $1,000. They then select an opponent and the two have a draft, each alternating for six selections each.

Then the real players hit the field and accumulate points for their respective teams, and obviously the one with the most points wins. The app tracks the games in real time and afterwards it’s time to brag or hang your head low, depending on the outcome. That and collect your winnings if you fell into the first category.

Depending on your confidence and budget a player is not limited to a single match each week but can offer multiple challenges and field a number of teams, using the week between games to conduct the drafts needed to fill out their fantasy rosters.

SideDraft officially launches Sept. 17 and initially will only be available on iPhones and iPads.

The area of sports and social betting is one that apps have been addressing for some time, and while it’s hard to judge it does not look as if any have really risen to the top of the pack. In part that is likely because there is such an overwhelming number of apps out there that even interested parties have a tough time sorting through the chaff to find the gems.

This is Blue Ox Entertainment’s second dip into the betting pool, with its SideBet app having been released in 2011 and then updated and enhanced last year, an app that enables individuals to bet against each other. There have been a variety of other betting apps released such as 2Bet2, GrabFan and Pickmoto.

Pro Football seems like it has the potential to be the space that breaks open this market. Its national viewership is massive. According to Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), more than 23 million Americans will play fantasy football in 2013, and NFL betting is the single largest betting segment at sportsbooks, so SideDraft has a huge potential market to draw from. It will be interesting to see if it can gain the market awareness needed to break out in this space.

NFL Ratchets up Tools for Fantasy Players

Every had a burning question about a NFL player, team or issue but did not have time to research it and none of your friends will help because it might give you a competitive advantage in your Fantasy Football League.
Now the NFL is stepping in and has developed an online fantasy football community called Fantasy Genius where you can post questions such as who is starting at QB this week for the Cleveland Browns, which running back you should start this week or are any of the Jets receivers worth selecting in our upcoming draft.

The site has the potential to serve millions of fans so there is the potential to become inundated with responses but it is designed so that you can focus on what interests you. Head over here to set up your profile- this enables you to not just establish yourself as a fan but is also the spot from which you can track your questions and view results. Users have the ability to preset how often they get email updates on their questions.

You can have focused discussions with fans on specific topics and post your team and have others rate it, or rate individual players. It also areas of interest such as Top Trending Questions and who to start and who to bench. If you participate in the ‘who to start’ feature you can earn ratings including draft expert.

This is an interesting idea but I wonder how the trolls will be dealt with. If you have ever visited a team fan site there are always people that log in just to insult rivals. I think this will be an interesting feature to try out for awhile and see how well it helps fans in their pursuit of fantasy glory.

New 2013 ESPN Bracket Bound app for Smartphones and Tablets now available


It comes as no surprise that ESPN is reaching out to mobile users to offer leagues for users to enter for the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournaments, but it is nice to know that there are features that will appeal to the diehard basketball fan as well as to people that only pay attention at this time of year.

The free “ESPN Bracket Bound” app, designed for use with both Android and Apple’s iOS mobile devices provides fans with the chance to enter both the Men’s and Women’s tournaments with either the ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge, presented by Allstate, Acura and Taco Bell or the ESPN Women’s Tournament Challenge presented by Capitol One.

The app also allows fans to participate in the ESPN College Hoops Pick’Em challenge that allows fans to predict the winner of each tournament match up, with bonus points for correctly picking games where the lower seeded team wins.

The app can be customized to allow fans to follow individual teams and specify games that they are interested in following by providing the scores and schedules. Other features of the ESPN Bracket Bound app include game clips, video analysis from ESPN’s college basketball experts and analysts, bracketology, game previews, recaps, analysis and highlights also provides several levels of support and information to help fans select their teams. Available for all fans is access to its college basketball experts and analysts. For members of ESPN Insider there are additional predictor and analysis tools available.

The tournaments are not just for bragging rights. When the Men’s tournament is over the top 1% are entered into a random drawing to win a $10,000 Best Buy Gift Card and the top 1% in the Women’s bracket will be in a drawing to take home a $5,000 card from Best Buy.