Friday Grab Bag: Microsoft Goes Small and MLB hits it Big

People seem drawn to March Madness pools like moths to a flame, and this year ESPN’s mammoth pool, 8.15 million strong had a surprise winner, Lanny Kekua. If that name does not ring a bell it is the fake dead girlfriend of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o.

The name was used as an alias by a fan named Craig Gilmore, who won the tournament and successfully selected Louisville to defeat Michigan in the final. He is now entered into a drawing for a $10,000 Best Buy gift card.

Reebok Spartan Race hits the baseball circuit
Last year the Sparta Race held an event at a baseball park, and it proved to be very popular. So this year it is upping the ante and will be holding a series of events at ballyards, and it has announced the first four venues.

Athletes living near The New York Mets’ Citi Field, The Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizen Bank Park, The Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park or The Boston Red Sox Fenway Park can start practicing for the event near you.

Did Windows 8 Launch hurt PC sales?
Market research firm IDC has reported that sales of personal computers continued a downward fall, and is ascribing part of the blame to the latest operating system release from Microsoft, Windows 8. The most recent IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker report shows that in the first quarter of 2013 there was a total average drop in PC shipments of 13.9% compared to the previous quarter.

Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays said that the company’s research showed that not only did Windows 8 not provide the hoped for boost in sales that many had been planning on, it actually served as a major detriment to sales.

At Bat Starts off with hot streak
Major League Baseball’s popular At Bat program for mobile device users has been a hot download at the start of this year’s season. The program surpassed the 4 million download mark last week, five days into the season.

Last year, when the app was also on a record setting pace, it took it 45 days to reach the 4 million milestone. For the year the app was downloaded 6.7 million times in 2012. MLB’s other two major apps At the Ballpark and Beat the Streak had roughly a million additional downloads.

The Rumor Mill

Tom’s Hardware is showing what is reportedly the next generation tablet from Acer, the Iconia tab A1-810 that had been accidentally briefly advertised by a French retailer. The 7.9-inch tablet is said to be powered by a 1.2GHz Cortex A9 processor featuring 1GB of RAM.

Newly leaked images of the forthcoming iPad from Apple appear to show a device that is thinner than previous releases and has reinforced the rumor that Apple is completely redesigning the popular tablet, currently reported to have the name iPad 5.

To the surprise of no one it has been reported that Microsoft has a 7-inch tablet in the works. With the rapidly growing popularity of this form factor a better issue might be what took them so long? The Wall Street Journal, via The Hispanic said that the tablets are expected to go into production later this year.

March Madness Ended Like it Started for Mobile Users: Strongly


The mobile and online viewing market for the most recent MCAA Division 1 basketball tournament ended just like it started, setting records for viewership and total amount of live game video streamed to fans.

The tournament was a huge televised hit, with the final between Louisville and Michigan garnering a an average 23.4 million viewers, up 12% from last year and a 19 year high, the online virewership was also record setting.

The overall mobile and online viewership hit 49 million live video streams, an increase of 168% from last year with more than 14 million hours of live video consumed by the fans. Both of these numbers set new records.

Not surprisingly the mobile space, with the strong growth of tablets in the last year and the powerful presence of smartphones, saw very strong growth for the tournament. Minutes were up 309% for mobile phones and 194% for tablet users.

PC users still represent a strong viewing group with broadband users represented 5.8 million unique visitors who watched games from their systems and they averaged 105 minutes of live video watched per user while mobile users averaged 70 minutes.

Social media users were also out in force, with the National Championship game netting a total of 3.5 million comments across all social media monitored, up 144% from last year. For the tournament as a whole there were 16.3 million comments, up 112% from last year.

The top ranked games across digital platforms during the 2013 NCAA Tournament, based on live video streams. Interesting to note that the final was not the top game

Valparaiso vs. Michigan State – 1,844,000
Bucknell vs. Butler – 1,784,000
Mississippi vs. Wisconsin – 1,778,000
Michigan vs. Louisville – 1,620,000
Albany vs. Duke – 1,488,000

March Madness Maintains Torrid Mobile Viewing Pace


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, or 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


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.

Yahoo! Sports’ Tournament Pick’Em Comes with Possible $10K Payoff


Yahoo! Sports is one of the major online sports sites and so it is of no surprise that it is also one of the major hosting sites for NCAA Tournament contests with a series of options for fans to compete against friends and strangers.

At first blush it has the features that you would expect a site that is hosting tournament pools to have including the ability to create a private group to play against your friends and the ability to join preexisting groups in the open group section. You do need a Yahoo account, which is free, to participate.

A nice touch is the ability to compete against Facebook friends, or after the tournament maybe just people that used to be friends. Yahoo! Sports will create a customized leaderboard that permits you and your Facebook friends to compare brackets, even if you are not in the same pool. Good for bragging rights if nothing else. The way I pick I fall into the nothing else category.

One of the features that is sure to capture the eye of almost anyone entering the contest is the fact that the best bracket is again eligible to win $10,000. There are of course certain eligibility rules including being over 18 years of age. To participate you must opt in when creating your bracket in the basic game portion of the site and you must have a valid Yahoo!, Google or Facebook ID.

Yahoo provides a guide to the tournament and can even fill out your brackets for you, if you so desire. Fans need to remember that time is tight and that to qualify for the tournament, and the prizes, they need to register prior to the first game of the Round of 64 that tips off tomorrow.

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.