Want to interact with Winter Olympians? The IOC has an App for you


It seems hard to believe that in about three months the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia will begin and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has developed and released an app that will enable fans to follow favorite athletes and sports.

The IOC’s app is called the Olympic Athletes’ Hub and it is much more than a one-dimensional portal into a static web site. The IOC has embraced a host of social media and acknowledged that many of the athletes have a major presence in social media.

The basic function of the Hub is pretty simple, it has created a searchable directory of the social media activities of Olympic athletes and brings them to users of mobile devices, a first for the Olympics. Included will be Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Possibly best of all for some fans is that the app makes the posting a two-way street with fans having the ability to post to the athletes social feeds across a wide swath of social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The IOC started down this path 2 years ago with the Summer Olympics that were held in London, allowing chats between fans and athletes, but it has taken that model and greatly expanded it to meet the growing, and changing usage of social media by athletes and fans.

The Hub provides fans with the tools to search for athletes by country, team, and sport as well as ones from previous Olympics that wish to sign up for the program. According to the IOC it already has 5,000 verified Olympians on board the program.

There is much more than just finding and following athletes. Former Olympians will post training tips that can be “Liked” which will earn virtual medals for these athletes such as Stephane Lambiel and Mark Spitz.

The Hub is just now being developed and the IOC said that it will add additional features to it as the games approach. It is also not just about social media. There will be a section that will direct fans to the websites of the IOC’s rights-holding broadcasters, where users can find their coverage of the Games.

You can download the Olympic Athletes’ Hub app at the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store. If you are bookmarking sites there is the IOC YouTube one, here is the Flickr site and here are Twitter and Facebook.

Just in case any athlete forgets their phone at home each will be provided with a Samsung Galaxy 3 with the app preinstalled. The IOC said that 27 million fans have already interacted with it via its social media.

Pro surfing league brings ESPN, YouTube and Facebook on board for event broadcasts


We have been touting YouTube as an alternative sports channel basically since the inception of this site and it looks like it has taken another major step forward in that direction as part of a deal that includes the Association of Professional Surfers (ASP), ESPN and Facebook.

The 3-year deal will start next year and calls for ESPN to recap 26 ASP events in a series of 11 broadcasts, while the ASP YouTube Channel will show all 26 events live for surfing fans. Facebook will serve as the primary social-platform partner, with the important goal of seeking to drive fan engagement via both broadcasts and connecting fans to the athletes themselves.

A look at the role that YouTube plays shows how its importance is growing. Over the course of the season next year it will broadcast, along with a new ASP website, over 3,000-plus hours of exclusive programming, including 26 live-streamed events across the men’s ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the women’s ASP WCT and the ASP Big Wave World Tour (BWWT).

The three way partnership also shows the growing impact that social media players are having on the broadcast industry. A recent deal between the NFL and Twitter is another example of how the two areas are starting to find common ground for growth. Major League Baseball has also been very active with social media partners including with Instagram where fans can tag photos of themselves at games.

These types of deals are good for both broadcasters and fans. There is obviously too much surfing coverage for just ESPN, with its already full plate, to handle. By partnering with someone such as YouTube, fans win by not getting shut out of viewing most of the events live and the two broadcast partners both help grow the interest in the sport. The ASP claims that it has 120 million fans worldwide.

The ASP deal for ESPN only holds for its U.S. broadcasts and the surfing association said that it is looking for related deals to bring the sports to the airwaves around the globe.

Sportsmanias.com Gains Funding: Rolls Out New Team-Focused App


Sports news aggregator startup Sportsmanias has raised $1 million in venture funding as it seeks to expand its reach by providing a new team-focused sports app that will enable users to track hard news about their favorite teams by focusing on news and reports from team beat writers.

The recent $1 million investment has come from Mas Equity Partners, which is led by founder Jorge Mas, who also serves as Chairman of the Board of MasTec, a $4 billion infrastructure engineering and construction company based in Coral Gables, Fla.

Sportsmanias.com, founded just last fall, has an existing web site and app that serves as a news aggregator for all major US sports including NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and the NCAA. In addition it covers a wide variety of domestic and international soccer news, teams and leagues. The news feed that a user gets can be customized to meet their sporting preferences. The company was founded by the mother/son team of Aymara Del Aguila, an advertising executive and son Vicente J. Fernandez, a student-athlete and sports writer at the University of Chicago.

Now the company has enhanced its presence in the mobile digital world with an updated free app for both iOS and Android powered devices. The Team News app will focus on providing news that has been originated by beat writers that regularly cover the team, rather than just culling all news stories that are generated about a team across the nation, often from sources that do not have direct contact and coverage of the team.

The app does not just exclusively provide beat reporter news on a specific team. It also provides team and player tweets. Two interesting features are the Rumor Filter, which collects league and team-specific rumors from top rumor sites, and a Video Filter, which aggregates footage from YouTube and Twitter.

These features have the ability to data mine rumors and videos in real time so that a fan can be up-to-date on what is going on as well as what is suspected to be about to happen. Other new features for the app include a scoreboard to follow ongoing games, and keyword search capabilities.

The company said that it currently is getting 500,000 unique visitors to its web site monthly and that with the new features and capabilities of its app it expects that it will see a strong jump to 1.5 million monthly visitors by year end.

The upgrades look to be a very good move by the company because increasingly flexibility and customization are now becoming standard in sports apps. The rumor and video filters are solid features that will help them create separation from many of the current apps that are now available, as many as just text based, and any rumors tend to be generated in house. However the need for these features, particularly video is obvious and others are headed in this direction.

MLBAM Teams with NDN to Deliver MLB Video to News Web Sites


A trip to your favorite baseball news site may soon be enlivened by video that matches up with the stories due to a new deal that has been struck between Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media (MLBAM) arm and Internet video provider NDN.

While it may seem odd that MLB needs a partner on video, it has been producing highlights and videos that are available on the Internet for over a decade, the deal will enable the sports league to hook up with a huge number of online news services.

NDN will enhance MLB’s existing video business by passing it along to its syndicated news partners, with approximately 4,500 online news publishers that have relationships with the company. In addition it often works with its partners to embed content in its partners stories.

The net result will be a boon for baseball fans who now can read a local story about their favorite team and then watch the clinching strike out or the walk off home run rather than forcing them to eave that site to go to MLB’s site to view the action.

This policy shines very nicely when compared to the very restrictive rules of the NFL, which has very strong restrictions of what can be shown, and for how long. It even demanded that top reporters shut down their twitter accounts during the NFL draft.

It seems to us that sports networks need to understand that increasingly fans are looking for information, and videos, on their teams from a growing diversity of media including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Internet news sites and rather than fight them they are better off joining with them to make the experience better for the fans.

MLBAM Expands Relationship with YouTube for more Broadcast Video Options


Major League Baseball via its Advanced Media (MLBAM) arm has joined with YouTube to provide an array of viewing options to fans that will be shown on the official MLB YouTube channel as they expand the 8 year old partnership.

For the most part the deal is simply an expansion of their current relationship but for baseball fans there are some additional perks for using the channel, and even better perks for fans that travel outside of MLB’s main broadcast markets.

The updated MLB.com YouTube channel will include in-season highlights of every game played during the current season, with the highlights available approximately two days after the games conclusion. The site will now also feature videos from MLB.com’s Baseball’s Best Moments library.

For travelers on the road and inhabitants of select areas the offerings are even better, depending on where you are. It will be streaming for no charge two live games daily, but available for viewers only in areas that are outside of what MLB calls its core live video distribution areas that includes North America, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

MLBAM has been delivering live streaming for a decade and has been delivering full game archives and highlight reels online via YouTube-however only in Australia, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and Russia since 2010 so the current deal will open up that coverage to much of the rest of the globe. I wonder what took it so long?

Greatest Basketball Shot Ever Shows How YouTube is the New SportsCenter

In the past, we used to remember historic sports broadcasts from television, like Al Michaels’ famous “do you believe in miracles” at the 1980 Olympics. But now thanks to YouTube anyone can be an instant worldwide sports hero, and you will probably not forget hearing the local broadcaster say “it’s loose at point one!” to describe possibly the best basketball shot ever, Khalil Edney’s ultimate buzzer beater that got a writeup in the New York Times the Monday after it happened.

Didn’t see it? Here it is:

We’ve been saying all along here at Mobile Sports Report that services like YouTube and Twitter are going to take a big chunk out of ESPN’s SportsCenter when it comes to being the go-to place for replays. Especially when the replay in question comes from a high school game.