Bleacher Report adds Group Interaction Feature to Team Stream App

The popular Team Stream app from sports site Bleacher Report is getting more interactive, with the release of a new version that adds the ability for people to share their sports-team preferences with friends. Available initially only for the iPhone version of Team Stream, the “groups” feature will let fans share not only news but opinions with each other, bringing Team Stream into the field of smack-talk/interactive sports apps like PlayUp and others.

Bleacher Report, which was recently acquired by Turner Sports for approximately $180 million, claims to have 1 million users of its Team Stream app, which brings a constant “stream” of sports news, opinions, tweets and other content from the Web and organizes it by team for easy consumption. By adding an interactive feature Bleacher Report is seeking to keep fans embedded in Team Stream longer, instead of having to leave it to share opinions or news with friends who share the same team interests.

Fan interaction is hardly a new feature on the web, as sharing opinions and sports news seems to be one of the bigger things happening on Twitter these days. And standalone apps like PlayUp have already found big crowds of fans who want to set up or join sports-specific, game-specific or team-specific “rooms” or other online gathering places to interact. Team Stream, which has been focused on providing news and other content, is coming at the sharing equation from another direction, but one that seems to make sense as sharing apps like PlayUp have recently started adding news feeds to their feature set.

“We’ve found that most sports fans have small but distinct groups of friends they talk to about their favorite sports or teams, but still lack a simple way of sharing and reacting to news with them,” said David Finocchio, Chief Content and Product Officer at Bleacher Report, in a press release. “This version of Team Stream fills that void by providing a more efficient way for fans to quickly share the latest on their teams with the right group of friends and then react together.”

According to Bleacher Report, the new feature allows users to “easily add their friends to a group and share their favorite stories with them. Friends can open the group, read the shared stories and easily reply to the group all from their phones.” From an outside perspective the feature might also act as a good recruiting tool for B/R, allowing current Team Stream users to introduce the app to friends who might not have heard of it before. According to Bleacher Report the new 2.0 version of the Team Stream app will be developed for the Android and iPad versions of the app sometime in the future, but is only available now for the iPhone.

Bleacher Report Sold to Turner Sports

The rich get richer as Turner Broadcasting Systems has purchased Bleacher Report, a six year old sports news web site in a deal that has been estimated at being valued between $170 million and $200 million according to Forbes. Bleacher Report was founded in 2006 by four friends, Bryan Goldberg, Dave Finocchio, Zander Freund and Dave Nemetz. Three are still at the company but Freund left in 2009.

Turner said that it will use Bleacher Report as an additional outlet for its sports programming including highlight videos and breaking news. Turner has a vast spread of sports content and this will enabled to expand the scope of fans that it can reach.

Looking at different analytic tools shows that the site gets approximately 10 million unique viewers a month, although the total number of visitors including repeat, is significantly higher. Combine that with the other Turner properties that include the web sites for the NBA, NCAA and the PGA as well as a relationship with NASCAR as well means more potential upside for Bleacher Report.

Forbes points out that the new viewers that the deal brings in will nicely replace an almost identical number that it lost when Sports Illustrated bolted for a new corporate parent to host its web pages. Bleacher Report is also attractive because of its reach to mobile device users; according to the company thanks to innovations like its Team Stream app (which aggregates sports content from all over, not just from B/R writers) it was getting more than 40 percent of its audience through a mobile connection, a number that has likely since grown.

The merging of print and broadcast media with on-line and digital is getting more common it seems. The recent announcement of the creation of Sports on Earth site by Major League Baseball Advanced Media and USA Today being a very recent example of this trend.

Bleacher Report Adds ‘Team Stream’ Feature to Home Page

A screen shot of the B/R home page with the Team Stream feature on the left side.

In a somewhat circular form of innovation, the functionality of Bleacher Report’s popular Team Stream mobile app — which surfaces a curated “stream” of news about a team or sport — is now an integral part of Bleacher Report’s main website home page.

Actually live since sometime last week, the Team Stream feature for B/R’s home page allows visitors to customize what stories they see in the strip that runs prominently down the left hand side of the page. And just like the Team Stream app, the Team Stream homepage feature will provide links to not just Bleacher Report content, but to content from sports sites across the web.

According to David Finocchio, co-founder and vice president of content and product at Bleacher Report, the not-written-here attitude is somewhat unique among major sports sites. “The idea is to provide fans with the most relevant information about their teams in one place,” said Finocchio in a phone interview this week. Though many leading sports sites are almost as bad as Bobby Knight and the word “Kentucky” when it comes to linking to competitors, Finocchio said that Bleacher Report’s web-era heritage makes prominent linking a no-brainer.

“We’ll link out to anyone providing the best content,” Finocchio said. “The challenge is creating an experience that people want to come back to.” So instead of worrying about keeping people trapped on a page, Finocchio said, “It’s about getting them to come back tomorrow.”

The basic premise behind Team Stream is that B/R’s team of web-watching editors will sift through everything that is out there and prepare a bundle of content centered around the teams or sports. Fans can then select which “streams” they want to follow, and a selection of items will appear in the stream on the home page, just like they do in the mobile app.

Bleacher Report and Turner Sports Continue to Expand Sports Apps Space

Ever wanted to follow a Div III Field Hockey playoff or have streaming news from your favorite pro team? Well there is a couple more apps that will help you do just that as web sites and news organizations continue to expand their presence in the mobile sports space.

First up is Turner Sports which has developed a mobile app called NCAA Sports for the Apple iOS and Android platforms. Designed to cover a wide spectrum of sports that often do not get wide coverage the free app will include live streaming video of over 60 NCAA championship games.

It will provide live streaming video of championships for all NCAA sports including Division II football, Divisions II and III wrestling, Divisions I, II and III field hockey, Divisions II and III men’s and women’s soccer, and Divisions II and III women’s volleyball. The app will also include in-depth regular season coverage of football and basketball.

The program permits users to drop in and out of the live broadcasts and provides the ability to chat with friends using Facebook or to post comments via Twitter.

In addition Turner has added a new mobile website on its hosted NCAA.Com space that is designed for mobile browsers user with touch screen devices such as Tablets and smartphones. The mobile website will allow fans to get live scores, schedules, news, rankings and video recaps that have been tailored for display on the mobile devices.

In a press release Mark Johnson, vice-president of Turner Sports’ NCAA Digital group said about the development that “College sports content is underserved in the mobile space right now and we’re excited to offer fans mobile products that are 100% dedicated to college sports.”

Bleacher Report moves desktop offerings to mobile app

The second app coming down the road is from Bleacher Report called b/r Team Stream App and the free app is now available for both Android and Apple iOS devices. It will cover a number of sports including NFL, College Football, MLB, NBA, NHL Soccer, Tennis and Golf.

The app is in ways a news aggregation program, Bleacher Report searches the web for news on the team you have selected and streams them to your mobile device using the app. However it will also include tweets from athletes and sportswriters.

Total College Sports Aims For Edgy Sports Alternative to ESPN

Total College Sports anchor Melanie Collins with Kobe Bryant

Is being edgier than ESPN a competitive advantage in the Internet sports video arena?

An Internet video network backed by live-streaming sports content powerhouse PERFORM and a company founded by the same ownership as the Chicago White Sox is banking on it.

Called Total College Sports, the network formally launched late last month.

Distributed through a video player embedded on Chicago Tribune Sports and other websites, Total College Sports is anchored by former NBA-TV and Big Ten Network host Melanie Collins. It features highlights from the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 conferences, as well as studio commentary from former ESPN personality Sean Salisbury and LaVar Arrington.

“It is edgier than ESPN,” said Juan Delgado, North American managing director for PERFORM.

A linchpin for SEASON

Silver Chalice Ventures is the driver behind Total College Sports, and the programming is part of its SEASON sports platform.

Designed as a free-to-view platform for sports fans, SEASON will provide an array of sports content throughout the year, including Major League Baseball,  National Hockey League, golf and soccer clips. All of it is delivered through PERFORM’s ePlayer, and supported by advertising that appears before each segment.

With such sponsors as Bridgestone, AquaFresh, htc and Verizon already buying advertising space, Total College Sports underscores the fact that the cost of producing original video content is becoming an increasingly feasible proposition.

Silver Chalice EVP and GM Rich Routman

“With increasing demand for premium video content – and more marketing dollars shifting to digital media, particularly online video advertising – SEASON is uniquely positioned to benefit consumers by providing premium content, while aiding marketers and publishers in reaching this fast-paced audience,” said Rich Routman, EVP and GM of Silver Chalice.

SEASON is part of an industry drive toward more sports video on the Internet. Bleacher Report and SB Nation parent Vox Media were among the companies tapped by Google last month as part of a $100 million plan to produce original content for YouTube, marking their transition from blog-driven portals to broadcast networks.

Total College Sports content

Total College Sports player

Is total College Sports content edgier than ESPN?

A typical Total College Sports segment might include Salisbury’s picks against the Las Vegas betting line, jokes about shamrocks on Notre Dame football helmets and this quote from Georgia’s head coach Mark Richt:

 “To answer your question I am not going to answer that question because I don’t like it.”

In actuality, with the exception of picks against Las Vegas lines, that’s pretty standard fare on ESPN. Total College Sports programming will need to reach further if it plans to differentiate itself from the established media brands.

The PERFORM connection 

Total College Sports is a serious player among video start-ups in part because of its backing from PERFORM.

Founded in 2001, PERFORM has over 1,000 employees worldwide, went public in April and is showing 50 percent year-over-year revenue growth. It originally focused its business on managing subscription services for premium, live-streamed video content tied to professional sports teams. It continues to provide those services, but has seen demand for its services grow into broader advertising-supported and sponsored content channels.

Today, PERFORM hosts Fox Sports’ FoxSoccer.TV and, which has 35 million unique visitors, including 4 million in the United States.