Sports are going social, and it’s a winning combination

Football-twitterRabid sports fans like to talk. They like to trash rivals, they like to hype fellow revelers, they like to argue with Charles Barkley and John Madden from their living rooms and scream at referees from the safety of their seats. And that’s why it’s only natural that legions of sports fans have taken so enthusiastically to social networking.

Fantasy leagues and sports-centered social apps have continued to thrive, thanks to the insatiable need of fans to bully, sympathize, and scrutinize everything about the game—whatever that game may be. “Sports in and of itself is social,” PlayUp U.S. head of product Dennis Lee tells us. “Unless we have someone to share our victories and defeats with, it’s not as fulfilling. People want to talk to fans like them, publicly and privately.”


PlayUp began in 2007, when founder George Tomeski was watching soccer and cricket and discussing the games with friends who were watching from their respective couches and barstools. While texting them, he realized there was a way to leverage fans’ need for interaction.

Since then, the mobile app has enjoyed success as a global network for sports, where users can publicly debate and discuss games, or privately host their own group chats. PlayUp also landed a partnership with Fordham Athletics, which will give its network a tie-in from actual to virtual reality. Lee says the deal means PlayUp will do things like host meet-ups at rivalry games or pull in public chat feeds on the Jumbotron at games. Fordham is only the first of what are upcoming partnerships with college athletic programs.

“The leagues and the schools are trying to figure this stuff out. They want to leverage their content socially, but they haven’t been able to quite get there on their own,” says Lee.

And it turns out there’s a lot to leverage. It’s this type of all-around connectivity that has allowed fans to fully submerge themselves into the game (PlayUp is now available via the Web and an iPad app is in the works). Dr. Alex Braunstein, head of search quality for app search engine Chomp, also believes there’s a lot of overlap between sports and social media. “We endear ourselves to the teams and even use terms such as ‘we’ and ‘us’ when talking about their most recent triumph or failure. It’s natural that something which creates such a deep emotional reaction yields so much conversation both in person and in social networks and social apps.” 

There are more sporting event and league-specific apps than you can probably imagine — you can see for yourself Chomp alone returns 66 Super Bowl results. But dedicated social-sports apps are hardly the only medium for this type of interaction: Twitter has become an athlete-ophile’s dream.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Shaquille O’Neal, Lance Armstrong, and Lebron James are among the most followed Twitter users. It’s a match made in heaven: voracious fans get their fill (and then some) of personal insights from the athletes they glorify, and the various leagues have another outlet to pursue from a marketing standpoint. And it’s working – engagement is ever-increasing. Social media has turned sometimes fans into obsessives.

“Rather than simply reading about players online, collecting cards, or wearing their jerseys, fans can follow their favorite players on Twitter, subscribe to their Facebook feed, or even see where they check-in on Foursquare,” says Braunstein. “I see this trend not only continuing, but accelerating in the coming year as social media continued to become more ubiquitous.” 

smccWe’ll see all of this culminate this weekend during Super Bowl XLVI, an event which will be extremely intertwined with social media outlets. Big name brands like Kia and Coca-Cola aren’t only buying ad space during the big game, they’re cross-promoting with Promoted Tweets and sponsored hashtags. Others are created second-screen app experiences, that either stream the game itself or offer complementary content (or both) complete with ad spots. Of course there’s also the NFL’s Social Media Command Center to help social media junkies in Indianapolis get the most out of their Super Bowl experience.

This genre has taken off not only because of fans attachment, but brands’ awareness – there’s a lot of market to be manipulated here. Former NFL player and broadcaster Will Overstreet recently founded Voices Heard Media, a platform for fueling this type of user to sports engagement. As an example, the company was used to conduct a poll between Washington Wizards fans and management concerning improvement for game-day experience. “The Wizards’ owner created video responses to each of the 30 suggestions,” says to Voices Heard.  

Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

Professional drone racing is flying onto Twitter this summer

Professional drone racing is coming to Twitter for the first time this summer. Organizers hope the streaming deal with the social media platform will help the growing sport to further broaden its audience.

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Social Media

Twitter takes a cue from Instagram and Snapchat with new quick-swipe camera

Twitter is giving the "what's happening" treatment to photos and video by allowing users to access the in-app camera fast enough to catch and share the moment. The new Twitter camera is now accessible with a swipe.
Social Media

Yep, it’s not just you. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for many

Facebook's family of apps has been suffering issues for much of the day. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook itself have been out of action for users around the world, with the company scrambling to sort it out.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.