On Deck for MLB: The Chatting Cage


I spend a lot of time on Major League Baseball’s various sites and use one of its apps when traveling to listen to ball games but I was surprised to find that it has a whole level of social interaction with fans that I was unaware of until this weekend.

When looking around its video section for a highlight from a game last year I came upon an online chat with Mat Latos of the Cincinnati Reds that had been recorded earlier this month. It is part of MLB’s continued effort to use social media as another way to engage fans and is called The Edward Jones Chatting Cage, online video chats that has fans talking with players, coaches, managers and team executives.

The program was started last year but if you missed it that is understandable, (I did) it debuted without a great deal of fanfare in late September. But it is going strong now and you can view old conversations as well as participate in future ones although it is not entirely intuitive.

Going to the MLB page and you can find a section for videos. In videos you can find the Edward Jones Chatting Cage link. Click on that it takes you to the archives. There you can find past episodes where a variety of players and management answer fans questions. However there are no instructions on how to participate that I could find.

However if you follow MLB’s Facebook page it does alert users to when the next Chatting Cage will be held, although you might need to search for it since they do not occur very often. You have to scroll down quite a bit to before the Latos interview to find out about the last one. No special section highlighting the event or mentioning when the next one will occure. You can submit questions via Facebook for the chats. Looking elsewhere I found that you can use Twitter with @MLB using the hashtag #chattingcage.

When you watch one of the archived shows it is obvious that fans can also log in using a web cam and ask live questions to the players and how they do that is not obvious, or if it is I am completely missing it.

However I like the concept a great deal. Of course it leaves itself open to trolls, as can be seen in some of the Facebook comments, but is a great way for fans to ask real questions of players and management, something they cannot do with any real chance outside of this program. If other sports pick up on this idea, and it’s hard to see why they would not, it could spell the death of all of the independent apps.

University of Oregon embraces Social Media with Quack Cave

Oregon's Quack Cave

The PAC-12 Network’s introduction yesterday of its Pac-12 Now for iPad is just the latest conference effort to expand its brand to a wider market but some of the individual schools are also making a push to create a stronger bond with their fans and alumni.

One school at the forefront of this effort is the University of Oregon which has been aggressive in the past with programs such as its GoDucks.com web site and other initiatives but now has gone another step with its Quack Cave.

Touted as the first social media hub in college sports and modeled after an effort by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils the school has outfitted a room that would be the envy of any technophile, filled with flat screens connected to iPads.

While the site is not just sports specific it looks like it will be sports centric. The Quack Cave will be charged with representing the school on a wide variety of social medias including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

The schools previous efforts at digital outreach have been very successful, with approximately 500,000 Facebook and Twitter followers, but the current effort could make that number seem small potatoes. Housed in a former storage unit near the school’s Autzen Stadium

The school is still in the process of setting up the effort and the site www.QuackCave.com was not active as of this writing but I expect that a big push is underway in order to get it up and running by this weekend when the football season opens for much of the nation. Fans can also follow at @QuackCave on Twitter.

I think this is a great idea, not just for Oregon, but any school. It seems that it will have a much more immediate and personal impact than the conference efforts, which will have to be more balanced (hopefully). If your school is doing something similar drop me a line at gquick@mobilesportsreport.com


Microsoft Slowly Pushing So.Cl Social Media Engine to Public

Microsoft has expanded the scope of who can use its So.Cl (pronounced social) social media search technology to everybody after a quiet beta push, as it seeks to establish it as a mainstream player in the social media environment.

So.Cl is a search engine that is designed to find and share social media, enabling you to connect with other users that have similar searches and interests and hopefully create an engagement between the participants. It enables users to take an assortment of media such as video, texts and photos, combine them into posts and then share them.

It is one of the many efforts under development at the company’s FUSE Labs and Microsoft has taken a low and cautious rollout for the product, quite the opposite of some of its efforts in the past. The company designed the technology for students and select schools were the first beta sites including University of Washington and New York University.

The student focus is intentional as the company has said that it believes that the features of the program reflect on how schools are teaching and how students are learning today, and not just computer science or technical students but for a range of scholastic focuses.

While focused on students I wonder how this will evolve, assuming that it does get off the ground. New sports blogs, apps for teaching players what to look for in an NFL defense, with commentary and past results listed in the frame? I have seen some pretty advanced sports pages and the ability to bring a large number of like minded fans, say baseball stat people, with live video examples etc.. could be compelling.

The effort was decidedly low key and that of course might have simply been because Microsoft did not want to try to be heard over all of the noise coming from the Facebook IPO or just because it is taking a different approach to establishing the technology.

So far it has had mixed reviews (I have not tried it yet) with Digital Trends decidedly unimpressed and with Cnet much more impressed with all of the features that the service provides.

GMR Survey Pinpoints how Sports Fans use Social Media

The folks over at GMR Marketing have put together a nice infographic on sports and social media based on a survey it performed with fans to see how and why they preferred their sports and a look at the impact that new delivery methods have had on more traditional ones such as television and radio.

The survey was broken down into five easy to follow sections pinpointing fan interests and revealing a few interesting tidbits such as fans today are ten times as likely to check Facebook or Twitter for breaking sports news than tune into sports radio. Of course considering some of the callers I have heard on sports radio they may not be able to use Twitter or Facebook.

The five sections cover the popularity of social media in overall sports media; how sports fans will check in with social media anywhere, even church; a follow up on how fans will use social media while watching games; a list of some of the top sports areas being followed on Twitter and an uptake on how advertising is viewed.

A few take always were that a majority of people not mind or are positive about advertising, which is good news for sites trying to make a buck; people follow top sports reporters and sites that have rumors- I guess they are not the same. One last note is that 33% of fans will check out how an event is gong even in a business meeting-where are you right now?

Head on over and check out what they have found in this space.

Intel the Latest to Create Mobility App Fund

The company has a strong history of focusing funds on specific markets

Intel has created a $100 million investment fund called AppUp Fund that invests in a range of mobile companies and has already helped provide financing to two startups, 4tiitoo and Urban Airship. The fund will invest not only in app developers but also middleware, mobile infrastructure, and digital content.

Intel has created several funds such as this over the years including its $500 million Communications fund formed in 1999 and its recently formed $300 million Ultrabook fund. The funds are managed by Intel Capital.

Of course Intel is not just investing in any company. The ones that will get its blessing, and funding, are ones that advance the Intel architecture, something that is increasingly important for the company as it continues to see important platforms and products being built using processors from rivals such as ARM.

Just One of Many Players in Fund Space

There are other efforts at funding startups, and the number is growing with companies seeking to fund everything from efforts to create apps for a specific operating system like Android, or social media platforms like Facebook, and increasingly just to push the overall market.

There is the App Fund from VezTek that seeks to bring investors and inventors together, United Holdings Group’s Mobile App Fund that offers between $5,000 to $500,000 for developers in a range of mobile spaces from Enterprise, small business, B2B as well as social media and collaborative entertainment.

The Founders Fund and Accel Partners, original funders of Facebook, launched a $10 million fund in 2007 called the FBFund, although it is run a bit differently than others with Facebook executives participating in the vetting process.

First two Investments

One of the first two companies that have received undisclosed funding from Intel is Urban Airship, a Portland, Ore. developer of a platform that enables developers and publishers to target specific market segments with push notifications, subscriptions and geo-location info.

The second, with the snappy name of 4tiitoo, was founded in 2007 in Germany and is an open source developer that already has experience working with Intel. It developed the WeTab OS that is based on the MeeGo technology that was jointly developed by Intel, Nokia and the open source community. It is currently working on software solutions across all system layers from kernel development up to application development.

The amount of funding shows just how important major companies and venture capital firms see the emerging mobile app and social app markets. Expect this to lead to new innovations and a new generation of programs that can enhance all aspects of the user and business experience as related to the mobile space.