ESPN keeps cranking out iPhone apps
Cable network ESPN is expanding its mobile reach by introducing six locally-targeted applications and ESPN Passport for Apple?s iPhone and iPod touch.
The five ESPN local applications give fans in Dallas, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York a mobile platform to access all the latest breaking news, scores and information from the hometown teams. Additionally, ESPN Passport lets fans chronicle their at-the-game experiences by building a digital sports scrapbook via the application on their mobile devices while also capturing real-time perspective with the ability to upload photos and share commentary while at the game.
?Local has been something we?re trying to make an investment in with the local sites, and mobile is obviously a natural extension of that,? said John Zehr, senior vice president and general manager of mobile at ESPN, Bristol, CT.
?We go through the mobile Web today, with audio and multimedia content, but this is a chance to take what we?re doing online and extend that to the iPhone and other devices as it makes sense,? he said.
In the past year, ESPN Mobile has been active in mobile application development for the iPhone and iPod touch, launching numerous applications.
ESPN ScoreCenter has logged close to 6 million downloads and has held its position as the top free sports application in the App Store since it first launched in June.
ESPN Radio has been one of the leading paid sports applications in the App Store since it launched in September.
Other recent applications released include ESPN Fantasy Baseball 2010, ESPN Tournament Challenge 2010, ESPN World Cup, ESPN Fantasy Football, ESPN Fantasy Football Draft Kit, ESPN Streak for the Cash, ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball Draft Kit in partnership with NBA.com, ESPN Spelling Bee and ESPN Zoom.
More recent titles released for the iPad include ESPN iScore Baseball Scorekeeper at $9.99 per download, ESPN ScoreCenter XL and ESPN Pinball.
ESPN Mobile goes local
The ESPNDallas.com application will be the first to be released in the App Store, followed by Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York in the weeks ahead.
All five ESPN Local applications will be free to download, giving fans access to breaking local news, hometown team information, local writers, bloggers and a custom local SportsCenter.
A rotating carousel that allows users to flip through the content at their fingertips will mimic the top stories of each local site homepage.
Other features include:
? Top local and national news stories
? GPS-activated local weather updates
? Blog posts and tweets from each of the local contributors to the sites
? Interactive scoreboard
? Access to local SportsCenter video and audio clips
? Stadium guides for all local professional sports teams
? Text direct to ESPN Radio stations in Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York
Advertising opportunities will also be available within the applications, including banners, ?presenting? sponsorships and ads dynamically inserted into the top stories carousel and within news articles.
?We?re looking at ad support?we?re looking to create opportunities for marketers to reach users in ways that are innovative and that enhance the overall experience,? Mr. Zehr said. ?We will be in market with sponsors soon.
?Mobile, to a large extent, has been a derivative of digital and online, but the mobility nature of it, out-and-about location, offers new ad types and opportunities that we haven?t had online,? he said.
The applications will include live digital audio from ESPN Radio stations as well as in-application purchase opportunities.
The pricing for ESPN?s local applications has not been announced yet.
ESPN claims that its local sites in Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles have already become leading destinations for fans of local sports.
In each month of 2010, 3.43 million fans visited one of the four sites, spending 19 million total minutes on the sites, according to comScore.
The network's newest site, ESPNNewYork.com, launched for sports fans in the Tri-State area on April 2.
Scheduled to launch in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the free ESPN Passport application for iPhone lets fans commemorate their at-the-game experiences by creating a scrapbook of memories with features like a virtual ticket stub.
Users will be able to keep a record of the games they attended, where they sat and upload mobile photos to share with friends via social media platforms like Facebook.
With GPS location verification, fans can check-in and confirm their attendance, which will in turn let ESPN aggregate that user-generated content and feature the story of the game from the fan?s perspective on ESPN.com.
?It?s user-generated content, but it?s structured?it?s less about the cat playing the piano on YouTube than us giving you the tools to create a virtual ticket stub or scrapbook of event attendance, letting fans keep scores on a professional game or a little league game using their iPad,? Mr. Zehr said. ?It?s a good way for us to enter the user-generated content space and provide a platform for people to elevate their content.
?The way people are using phones at live events, whether it be a concert or a baseball game, updating their Facebook status, taking pictures and sharing them?it?s striking how commonplace that is,? he said. ?We?re adding a layer of structure to sharing content, giving users a mobile platform to do things that previously couldn?t be done.
?If you think about Passport, it fits in well with live events, bars, hotels, the underlying theme of mobility?going to events is expensive, so I would think that a marketer would want to reach that out-and-about audience.?