PlayUp Brings its Fan-Interaction App to the Olympics

Fan interaction app PlayUp, which made its name this spring with several pro-athlete chat rooms for big events, is stepping up its own game with a new release of the app just in time for the London Olympics.

Announced today, version 3.1 of the PlayUp app for the iOS platform adds some interesting new features, including third-party content and sports news, as well as targeted sports feeds by the user’s geographic location. This feature, PlayUp said, brings the most regionally relevant content to the forefront when a user launches the app. PlayUp can be downloaded free from the iTunes store.

The PlayUp app, which gives sports fans the ability to track teams, scores and to converse with other fans in either small or large, or private or public groups, will now bring that interaction to the Olympic games, which begin July 25 and go until Aug. 12. The PlayUp app will give fans real-time results, standings and leaderboards for almost all the events, in addition to the app’s signature ability to let fans talk smack, agree and cheer, or otherwise communicate with friends and fans worldwide about their favorite sports.

What should be interesting is to see how third-party entities contribute to the PlayUp app to make the experience richer for PlayUp users. (You may even see some Mobile Sports Report content there soon, so keep your eyes peeled.) The app already has news feeds featuring stories from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS, so PlayUp has you covered when it comes to quick coverage from the top media outlets. The MSR take here is that more integration and aggregation is better for fans, who don’t have to leave an app to check, say, a Twitter feed. The challenge for PlayUp will be to convince partners that their app can bring in new sports-savvy users.

“Now sports fanatics can turn to PlayUp to get sports content, stats, Twitter feeds and more, and can be assured to get their sports fix even when no live games are being played,” said PlayUp CEO Dennis Lee in a press release. “We now also have the opportunity to connect brands and developers with sports fans and provide these third-parties with more effective ways to connect with potential customers across the globe. There is no bigger and better event to showcase PlayUp’s new features than the Olympics.”

NBA Pros Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings Will ‘Hang Out’ on PlayUp App During NBA Finals

Fan interaction app PlayUp has announced that it will be hosting a couple NBA pros — the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Jennings — who will “hang out” in special PlayUp chat rooms during the NBA Finals.

Up first tonight is Golden State’s Curry, “hanging out” in a virtual room on the PlayUp app. If you’ve never tried PlayUp the pro player rooms are a good way to start, since the pros and fans are motivated to have a good interaction. We checked out one such interaction during the NCAA tournament and found it interesting.

“PlayUp is once again offering fans an incredible opportunity to connect with two of the most likeable
budding superstars during what is sure to be an exciting and memorable NBA Finals,” said PlayUp USA
CEO Dennis Lee in a press release. “We are extremely proud to offer a platform for Stephen and Brandon to showcase their
great personalities to fans.”

(If you don’t have the PlayUp app installed yet you can get it here.)

PlayUp pushes to China

PlayUp plans to launch in China in January, according to a China Daily report.

PlayUp is rapidly establishing itself as a global leader in sports social media applications for mobile devices. Launched in the United States in October, PlayUp has already downloaded 75,000 applications worldwide, according to an earlier MobileSportsReport article. By pushing into China, PlayUp establishes a presence in each of the three top markets for mobile sports. It is already active in India and Brazil.

The PlayUp application mixes live sports scores with sports social media. Its interface allows people to pick games to comment on, and easily filter conversations.

According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), there are over 952 million mobile phone users in the country, including over 102 million on 3G mobile networks.

PlayUp will be the first application of its kind available in China when it debuts in January, according to China Daily.

Jersey Voters Overwhelmingly Support Sports Betting

LeRoy's Sports Book in Las Vegas has a mobile sports betting application ready to go if Federal laws are relaxed

New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported sports betting at Atlantic City Casinos and state racetracks, paving the way for a legal challenge to Federal restrictions against legal sports betting on mobile devices.

According to a Philadelphia Media Network report, the ballot initiative passed by greater than a two-to-one ratio. Republican Gov. Chris Christie says the initiative provides him ammunition to challenge the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, passed by Congress in 2006, which prohibits all states except those that already allowed sports wagering to implement sports betting systems.

“With this referendum, we have an opportunity that gives the state more solid footing to challenge the federal ban on sports wagering outside of a few select places,” Christie said before he voted in favor of Public Question 1, according to Philadelphia Media Network.

The move is significant because reform to the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act and The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1992, are needed in order to allow legal sports betting on mobile devices across the United States. Today, because of Federal law, an estimated $380 billion annually in illegal sports betting is conducted in the United States annually, according to National Gambling Impact Study Commission. Much of that is conducted through the online portals of offshore casinos, which are widely known to provide poor customer service and slow payouts.

New law would prove a boom for mobile device application developers. To date, Cantor Gaming, which operates the race and sports books of such Las Vegas casino powerhouses as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Tropicana Las Vegas, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and The Palazzo, and American Wagering, which operates a chain of race and sports books called Leroy’s, have released sports wagering applications that work in the state of Nevada. In addition, leading sports social media application developer PlayUp USA has similar capabilities through sister companies in international markets. Numerous other mobile sports application developers are also preparing sports wagering applications.

Research firm Gartner Group estimated that global mobile gaming revenues reached $5.6 billion in 2010, and predicted the market would grow to $11.4 billion dollars by 2014.

PlayUp Brings Broad Strategy, $73 Million Warchest to Sports Social Media

An interloper from Australia, backed with a warchest of $73 million, entered the sports social networking arena this week.

PlayUp, released to U.S. markets on Oct. 20, is an iPhone and iPad application that allows people to get scores and stats for NFL, college football, NHL, NBA, MLB, and MLS games, and create private and public discussions by contacting Facebook friends or other directories.

“There is no better platform for social interactivity than sports, but until now the industry has been unable to marry live sports and social,” said Jonathan Press, CEO of PlayUp USA.

Greater than 56,000 free PlayUp applications have already been downloaded through Apple Inc.’s App Store since release, making it one of the five most downloaded sports social media applications downloaded to date. PlayUp plans to release a second version of the application in December, which will include the ability to buy premium content.  

Company backers include George Tomeski, a former managing partner at the advertising agency George Sydney, and Luke Bunbury, former head of strategy for the whole finance group of Austalia-based Challenger Financial Services Group, Ltd.

The company used three different investments rounds to raise more than $73 million, according to a report published by the Melbourne, Australia-based small business news website StartUpSmall.

The PlayUp slogan is “where sports gets social.”

Release of PlayUp changes the competition among developers of sports social media applications. First, PlayUp is looking to provide comprehensives sports scores and statistics to its users, as opposed to an interface that tightens the consumer’s social media focus on a single game. Second, it is most interested in an electronic-commerce strategy, as opposed to an advertising- or sponsor-driven model, which will force other developers to consider whether that’s the best way to make money through sports social media. And third, its tight intergration of Facebook as a means to invite interaction forces other application to developers to consider similar connectivity with the social media behemoth or face being left in the dust.