New Rules for International Soccer- Video Replay included

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) held a special meeting yesterday and passed several decisions that will result in new rules for the game, with one of the decisions relating to goal line technology to review goals.

If anybody was watching the just concluded Euro 2012 they no doubt saw the Ukrainian team denied a goal against England, a goal that would have been allowed if technology had been in place to review the incident.

The new technology, which has been tested for the last nine months, will be slowly implemented after a unanimous vote and is now subject to installations in stadiums and a final quality check. The technology will only be used for goals and no other areas, such as diving.

However the issue of diving might be addressed by a second resolution that passed unanimously, that of adding two additional assistant referees to the game, following a two year experiment UEFA Champions League, Europa League and EURO 2012, as well as the AFC President’s Cup and competitions in Brazil, France, Morocco and Qatar.

The last resolution passed was the allowing of players to wear headscarves. This will be allowed temporarily and the composition, color and other features of the scarves will be decided later this year.

Friday Grab Bag: ESPN’s Strong Euro, Archos $250 Tablet

ESPN followed Spain’s’ lead and finished strong in the Euro 2012, bringing in its strongest soccer ratings to date. The broadcaster reported double and triple digit increases in viewers across all of its platforms that carried the matches.

The finals match that featured Italy against Spain, won by Spain 4-0, set a record as the most-watched UEFA Championship game in the United States and was watched by an average audience of 4.068 million viewers. This represented an 8% increase from four years ago from the Spain vs. Germany match.

For the whole of the tournament, which took place over a three week period and featured 31 matches, ESPN’s English language presentation had a 51% viewership increase from 2008. Its digital properties were in some ways even stronger with 900,000 unique viewers on its ESPNFC.Com and , up 54% and 28% respectively while mobile usage across its platforms was up 497%.

Samsung fails to block injunction
A US Court has denied Samsung’s request for a stay on a preliminary injunction against the company that is preventing it from selling its Galaxy Nexus smartphone as well as for a similar injunction against it selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.

The injunctions are the result of a ruling in a long running patent dispute between Samsung and Apple. The company wanted the suspension while it takes its case to the US Court of Appeals, according to an article in Infoworld.

Tablets to outsell notebooks in four years
A report from the research firm NPD Display Search predicted that notebooks will be supplanted by tablets and the mobile computing device of choice by 2016. It said that notebook sales will continue to increase, from an estimated 208 million units this year to 393 million units by 2017.

However during that same time span tablet sales will grow at a much faster pace, increasing from 121 million units this year to an estimated 416 million units by 2017. Among that factors that will fuel the growth are its improved portability and battery life when compared to notebooks.

Apple loses patent round in UK
While Apple has managed to block Samsung in the US, to a degree, it has failed in a similar suit in the United Kingdom, where the courts have ruled against it in a fight with HTC. The high Court ruled that HTC did not infringe on Apple’s photo management patent.

It also ruled that three additional patents that were in dispute were invalid, including apple’s ‘slide to unlock’ feature, according to TechWorld. If Apple had succeeded in its cases it would have affected both tablet and smartphone products from HTC.

Archos unveils 97 Carbon Tablet
Archos has taken the wraps off of its latest tablet, the Archos 97 Carbon. It features a 9.7-inch display with 1024 x 768 pixels that is capable of running 1080p HD video. The 1.5 pound tablet features 16GB built-in storage and supports an additional 16GB via either a SDHC card or a USB flash drive.

The tablet features a mini-HDMI port and has 1GB of memory. It runs the current Android 4.0 operating system and is powered by a 1GHz ARM Cortex processor. The starting price for the table is expected to be $250.

Recapp adds Summer Olympics news
Sports news aggregator Recapp has added support for the upcoming Summer Olympics in London. The app, which brings the leading news stories on user selected sports topics has expanded its support so that now you can follow your favorite teams and events during the games with articles from a wide source of news outlets including Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

A tale of two smartphones
Samsung, developer of some of the most popular smartphones, has reported that its latest quarter had a profit of $5.9 billion with earnings from its mobile phone division more than doubling in the quarter as Galaxy sales soared.

On the flip side is HTC, which had a very poor quarter, reporting that its net profits fell 58% from the same quarter a year ago, with a net profit of $247 million and it said that the current quarter’s outlook is cloudy due to increased competition.

LUMOback- the anti-couch potato device?
A sensor and app designed for better posture? That is what LUMOback is designed to provide. The sensor pad fits in your chair and vibrates when you slouch in your chair and provides feedback to your iPhone in an effort to promote good posture. Android and other platform support is on the horizon, the company said. The project on Kickstarter has already exceeded its $100,000 goal. I wonder if it is a comfortable vibration because I could get a pretty good massage while watching the NFL.

Rumors de jour
Amazon is planning on fighting back against Google and others by introducing its own smartphone and is looking to buy patents in that space first. Amazon has declined to comment.

It also looks like the next generation Kindle, the Kindle Fire 2, will be available in the fall as well. This is not really a surprise considering how hot the original Fire sales were during last year’s holiday season.

Is Apple preparing a mini iPad for Fall introduction, many sources say so. Numerous sites and news agencies have reported that a 7-inch version is on the way in order to fight Amazon, Google and others that are concentrating in this space.

ESPN’s Euro 2012 Broadcasts Drawing Strong Viewership

ESPN is continuing to draw strong viewership for its Euro 2012 soccer broadcast through last weekend’s quarterfinals, with the Italy versus England match last Sunday leading the way.

The quarterfinal rounds witnessed a slight increase in viewership overall, compared to the opening round, 1.4 million versus 1.3 million, while the top match on Sunday drew an average of 2.96 million viewers.

One of the interesting aspects of the viewership numbers is how well it is doing on week days. While the Italy/England match drawing double the viewership of the weekday matches, most people I know work at 2:30 pm, so quite a few are sneaking away to catch some of the action. I suspect that with the finals, played on a Sunday, will destroy the Italy/Germany numbers as more and more fans are tuning in to catch the matches.

Overall the first two rounds of the Euro 2012 championship, which was a total of 28 games, saw an average of 1.1 million viewers, up 63% from the same 28 matches four years ago, with the quarterfinals up 31% over the same period of time.

ESPN is also continuing to see strong viewership on its on-line and other broadcast properties. Online the quarterfinals saw ESPN’s two soccer properties, ESPNFC and average 878,000 daily visitors and 3.1 million page views per day globally. Four years ago, when ESPN only had Soccernet its three online properties, including are up 24%, 13% and 132%. ESPN3 and WatchESPN had 2.1 million unique viewers, with computer usage to watch the games up 688% compared to four years ago.

Compared to during the same time period for EURO 2008, the site is up 24 percent, 13 percent and 132 percent, respectively. In total,, and generated 13.3 million total page views during the quarterfinals, up 14.6 percent compared to EURO 2008.
The Semifinals begin later today at 2:30 ET with Portugal vs. Spain and then tomorrow at the same time for the Germany vs. Italy match. The finals will begin at 2:30 on Sunday.

Bantr Seeks to bring Soccer Fans Together

With the Euro 2012 tournament up and roaring along with the first round of eliminations I got to wondering about what type of chat and viewing options that was available for fans to catch up on scores and possibly talk a bit of trash to rivals and went looking.

Not surprising there is a number of apps available for a fan, including some we have talked about here previously such as Fancru. One i found that caught my eye was Bantr, an app that is designed to bring together soccer fans.

What made it noteworthy was it was one of the first fan interaction sites I have seen that is dedicated to a single group of fans, it is only about soccer, which I suspect is just fines with fans of that sport because the cross over talk would probably get pretty heated.

The free app is currently only available for products that run Apple’s iOS operating system including the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone. It is obviously designed for European soccer and supports English, German, Northern Sami and Spanish.

It shares many similarities with other interactive fan sites: you can select your teams that you support, check into games; chant or banter with other fans and predict outcomes. Some interesting touches include in game voting on if a player dives, on cards and penalties and the worthiness of substitutions. You can also vote for player of the match, rate players, refs and matches, and vote on manager and player approval.

The company was founded in 2010 and has secured $328,000 is seed money, according to Crunchbase. If you want to get a taste of what is available but do not want to download the app just yet, or do not have an iPhone (Android support is supposedly coming) you can head over hear at Facebook and take a look at what is available.

ESPN’s Soccer Push Pays off with Euro 2012 Viewership

ESPN has reported preliminary numbers for its UEFA Euro 2012 broadcasts and it is showing the sports giant that there is great potential in the sport. The opening match for the Group C teams Italy and Spain, both powerful squads, garnered an average of 2.1 million viewers.

While in terms of other major American sports this might not be that impressive but it, along with results from the Premier League show that increasingly ESPN can draw in viewers for a variety of soccer matches. It should be noted that the matches do not include a US team so there is no nationalistic urge to watch the sport.

According to ESPN the Italy vs Spain match was the biggest Euro match viewership aside from the championship match four years ago that had a 3.76 million viewership. Overall through the first six matches the network is averaging a hair over 1 million households and 1.3 million viewers on its English language broadcasts.

This represents a increases of 198% and 214%, respectively, versus the first six games of the UEFA EURO 2008

Last Sunday’s UEFA EURO 2012 match between Italy and Spain at on ESPN, a 1-1 tie and tournament opening match for both Group C teams, was seen by an average of 2.113 million viewers, bigger than any UEFA European Football Championship 2008 match except the final on ABC. That game, Germany vs. Spain, was watched by an average of 3.760 million viewers.

Through six matches, ESPN’s English-language presentation of the event is averaging 1,007,000 households and 1.328,000 viewers — up 198 percent and 214 percent, respectively, versus the first six games of the UEFA EURO 2008 (338,000 households and 423,000 viewers in ’08). The second most-watched game to-date in 2012 is Saturday’s Portugal-Germany match up – a 1.1 household coverage rating, 1,244,000 households, and 1,798,000 viewers, second to only one ESPN game in all of 2008.

Then there is the viewership from the rest of the networks broadcasting arms. ESPN Deportes is showing a 147% increase in households watching over 2008, and has reached 166,000 households. It is also getting strong viewership on its digital platforms, not a surprise since many of the matches are during work day hours for most of us.

Its has globally logged 876,000 daily visitors, 8.5 million page views and 33 million minutes, up 45%, 11% and 191%, respectively from four years ago. ESPN3 and WatchESPN, which reach a broad array of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets as well as PCs has generated 65.8 million minutes to both the English and Spanish language feeds.

It will be interesting to see how the numbers grow as we head to the elimination rounds and more weekend matches. It is tough to head out to the TV, or even watch at work, with matches that occur when your boss is expecting you to be productive.

The Euro 2012 Tournament Starts this Weekend-ESPN Will be there for all of the Matches

The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship aka the Euro 2012 starts today to see which national soccer team will emerge victorious in the 14th European Championship which sees 16 nations vying for the title. In the next championship, in 2016, the field will expand to 24 teams.

Aside from bragging rights the winner gets something much more substantial, an automatic entry into the 2013 FIFA Confederation Cup that will be held next year in Brazil. The event, which will carry on for the next month will see matches held in eight cities sprawled across two nations-Poland and the Ukraine.

While I enjoy a good match I am really in no position to predict who is a favorite or which teams are the top ones to follow. I would suggest heading over to The Big Lead and look at Ty Duffy’s body of work on the subject.

The tournament has had a touch of scandal currently, with the continued growth of the match fixing scandal in Italy, something that initially helped kill that nation’s bid for the tournament and now sounds like it might have killed the national team’s chance of participating.

A few days ago the Italian team captain, Cesare Prandelli said it would not bother him if the team was withdraws from the event due to the scandal, which has been ongoing since 2006 in one form or another. There were 14 arrests last month and a player was dropped from the squad. As of this writing it has not happened.

In addition the BBC has reported that racism and neo-Nazis could be a problem and that former England team captain Sol Campbell is advising English fans to watch the matches from the safety of their home. And last but not least there are reports from Fox Sports that the jerseys sold at the matches contain toxic chemicals.

The Finalists
Group A
Czech Republic

Group B

Group C

Group D

The official site for the tournament is well laid out and carries a lot of current and past information, including how the teams did in the recent batch of friendlies, videos, photos, past history of the event, updates from team camps and general news.

There is the usual data on teams and when the event starts statistics will start to fill in on each game. What I like is that there is a number of games in the fan section where you can make prediction on who wins their group, who will win the Golden Boot, and other events

ESPN has taken the soccer broadcasting bull by the horns and will be broadcasting all of the matches, spread out across the ever growing network of channels and outlets that it owns. It has been working to make itself a much stronger player in the soccer broadcast world and so far it seems to be paying off.

This will be a real test to its commitment and I am looking forward to watching as many of the matches as possible. I will also be interested if I hear anything about this event from a number of friends who suddenly became soccer fans when the US Women advanced in the World Cup but had never mentioned the sport prior or after to me.