Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer of Official Sporting Apps

This is the summer of sporting events. Since the end of May, we've had (deep breathe): Champions League Finals, The French Open, EuroCup, The Open (aka British Open), U.S. Olympic Trials, Wimbledon, Tour de France, MLB All Star Game, NBA Finals, NHL Stanley Cup, NCAA Championships (for all collegiate sports) and I'm sure plenty of other professional sporting events that escaped my purview. Of course, the biggie event not on the list, because it's about to kick off, is the 2012 London Olympics.
This plethora of sporting events piqued my curiosity about how official events were or weren't utilizing apps to market their events and engage with both attendees and viewers.

Champions League & EuroCup 2012

My first stop was UEFA, the organizer for Champions League and EuroCup 2012, where I found apps for each event. Both apps contain basically the same features and functionality: live results, free customised alerts, video highlights, news, photos and updated standings. User reviews were generally pretty good with the exception of the apps failing to push notifications for certain user-selected teams and a lack of community commenting and interactions. Additionally, event sponsors were promoted within the app providing an additional "touchpoint"/marketing opportunity for them.

The UEFA apps for both Android and iPhone were clearly designed for users who wanted to be kept up to date on all the games/stages of the tournament even when they were on go the and couldn't access WiFi networks for live game stats and updates.
Were I UEFA I would recommend promoting their apps on the homepage of their website instead of placing them under the "Mobile" tabs of their site. I'd also recommend integrating some sort of social media communication tool, such as a Twitter feed/hashtag, so app users could communicate with each other and share their passion for the events.

Tour de France 2012

I next checked out the Tour de France, where right from the homepage the apps were promoted everywhere for the iPhone, iPad and Android. The primary app, sponsored solely by SKODA, provided users details on the race in real time, access the news wire of the race, live GPS tracking of the riders on the stage maps, details on live gaps on the stage maps, racer profiles, and the classifications and results at the end of each stage. The app gave users access to app-only interviews, articles, reports, etc., providing value beyond the TV broadcast. Unfortunately, the user reviews for these apps (on all platforms) aren't very good. Big complaints with load time and timeliness the greatest complaints.

Beyond race updates and tracking, the Tour also provided race aficionados with a gaming app allowing them to become a team manager for their favorite team and manage the peloton and deal with breakaways, climbs, accidents, loss of form, expose the weaknesses of your competitors and lead their team to victory. All for $2.99, but not available (although shown) for Android. Unfortunately, these apps haven't been reviewed enough to know if users actually liked/enjoyed them.

2012 London Olympics
For the summer Olympics there are three official apps, all free, to keep users in touch with the games wherever they are, whenever they want. The first app is titled "The Join In app" focused on helping app users plan, enjoy and share their various Games experiences. Essentially it's a planning tool for those with and without tickets that pulls in sporting event-related information as well as all the cultural, city and community celebrations happening across the UK.

The second app focuses on the latest news, schedules, results, medal tables, athletes profiles, etc., and allows users to keep up-to-date with the latest action across all Olympic sports. App users can follow specific countries to receive official news and updates tailored to their interests.

The third and final app is a game that appears to feature Bratz-esque characters. Sigh. Users can design, train and improve their athlete just the way they want and have them compete in nine Olympic games, including Archery, Double Trap Shooting, 110m Hurdles and Swimming, in authentic London 2012 venues.

Aside from the poorly chosen athlete illustrations, my big pet peeve with these apps is that they're extremely difficult to find on the Official London Games website.

Outside The Official Apps
There are of course hundreds of unofficial apps built around EuroCup, the Tour de France, the Olympics and any and every other popular sporting event. Some are very similar in terms of features and functionality to their "official" counterparts while some are more gamey/fun (like the Vuvuzela app shown below) or singularly focused of specific functionalities and news.


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