If there’s any market that’s primed for the social, second screen experience, it’s sports. What with the stats, player news, fantasy teams, and of course, heavy dose of trash talking, the two are made for each other. That’s not to say there isn’t still plenty of friction in this space, but developers are doing their damndest to figure out how we want to use social platforms and mobile devices to enhance the experience of watching sports.
And today, one of the biggest names in this market, SportStream, is taking another step into the thick of it with the debut of its iPhone app. At the moment, SportStream is available via Web or iPad app, but the team has wisely noticed that plenty of users are content to multitask during TV watching from the palm of their hands as well: A recent Pew report found that more than 50 percent of adults use their phones while watching television.
“People watch sports in real-time: The don’t DVR,” says co-founder and CEO of SportStream Bob Morgan. “They want to see outcomes, share their comments and trash talk in real-time, too. This creates a very interesting opportunity for second screen experience. Our primary goal is to provide fans with the best content for every game, while connecting them with each other.”
The SportStream iPhone app brings with it everything available in the iPad and Web versions — commentary, sideline reports, and game stats. Except these aren’t sourced from what you’re already seeing on TV; it’s all aggregated from sports personalities’ and experts’ social media accounts. If that makes you raise a skeptical eyebrow, consider that Packers guard TJ Lang’s Twitter slam against the replacement NFL refs quickly became the most retweeted post of all time. There’s an inarguable connection between fans and sports figureheads, be they players or pundits, and it’s being made using social platforms.
In addition to features like Twitter and Facebook sharing (with some slick focus on trending hashtags focused on your content and improved technology to filter out any irrelevant social noise), SportStream’s recent integration with Are You Watching This?! (RUWT?!) also shows up in the new iPhone app. RUWT?! is an algorithm-based system that alerts users when games get exciting — it’s supposed to keep you from beating yourself up for turning the TV off during that assumed blowout only to hear the next day that your team made an epic comeback (points at self).
SportStream, which launched in June, has been building fast. The iPhone is an interesting next iteration, given the startup’s early tablet focus. “We’ve seen tablet and Web browser use as fairly similar — it appears users have one or the other open during games,” Morgan tells me. “This isn’t too surprising given the research in this area. With the launch of the iPhone app, we’re very interested to see how people interact with the app on their phones, while on the go. One of the most interesting things we’ve seen is how low latency game information and commentary is on Twitter. This makes for a really rich, 360-degree view of a game.”