ESPN Intros SportsCenter Feed, a Twitter and Team Stream Competitor

Here at MSR we have praised Bleacher Report’s Team Stream app for doing a great job of aggregating content we care about, namely that about the teams we like. What we like a lot about Team Stream is its embrace of content from all sources, not just Bleacher Report, to give as full a range of news and opinions as possible.

Now from the other side of the coin we have the Worldwide Leader, which today introduced a beta version of something it is calling SportsCenter Feed, which does exactly what you think it might do — brings all of ESPN’s breadth of content into one Twitter-like stream, with a kind of cool big viewing window to the side.

Though nobody doubts ESPN’s ability to give you more sports content than you could actually consume, the question we have is whether or not sports fans really want to stay inside the ESPN bubble, or whether they might prefer creating their own “feed” on say, something like Twitter itself, which as we said earlier is already the default AP wire for all of sports. For many fans ESPN might be more than enough, while others might prefer to have opinions and takes that originate somewhere other than Bristol.

Where you might see SportsCenter Feed getting some love is outside ESPN itself, as (we think) the strategy is to license the APIs so that other content aggregators or sites — like say, a team or league’s home page — could license the ESPN content which it could then show in some kind of a streaming window. Some mobile sports apps like PlayUp are already experimenting with similar sports news feeds, so that users of those apps don’t need to log on to another app or site to get scores and other info.

What is clear is that ESPN is making good on its pledge to do things digitally first, even if that means sabotaging some of its current cash cows (if you sift through SportsCenter Feed, for instance, you may not need to turn on your TV to sit through the commercials on the regular SportsCenter broadcasts). So even as Twitter and other new options look for a sporting edge, the Worldwide Leader is going to be the Yankees in this arena as well. Not that the Yankees can’t lose, but you will need a good game plan to beat their killer lineup.

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 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.