The Internet changed everything in the world of sports, including the programming itself, team and player news, and commentary and analysis. Sports teams, organizations, and sports media all quickly adopted websites. Endless news and commentary can now be found online. Fans can also now purchase fan merchandise via online channels.
Mobile Technology and Social Media
Mobile technology too has revolutionized the way fans watch and interact with sports. Once bound to the television and computer, sports became something that could be taken with fans wherever they went, and certain developments in online technology, including apps and social media, allowed mobile technology to deepen fan engagement, becoming what is now known as the second screen.
With social media, fans now enjoy even more social aspects of communicating with players, coaches and sports organizations. What was once limited to chat rooms and forums now evolved into full-blown social media communities wherein fans and sports participants could share news, opinions, status updates, photos, videos, and more.
Startups immediately took to these technologies and used them to become a force to be reckoned with in the wide world of sports. The chief way startups have become involved is through the development of sports apps.
Apps From Startups
Sports apps run the gamut these days, from general sports and TV channel apps like those from the NFL and ESPN, which allow live game streaming and other options for interactivity, to more specific apps that enable different aspects of fan engagement.
One such app is Beyond the Box from StartX, which TechCrunch calls “Tweetdeck on steroids—for sports.” The app provides real-time coverage of sports teams and players from the four major sports—NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL—by curating news, photos, quotes, social media updates, and more from a wide variety of sources. It presents this information in an updated, streaming timeline format that users are used to from other traditional social media outlets. The app acts as a companion both while the user is watching a game and during downtime in between games so that he or she can always stay updated and connected as the news and media are released.
Another social media-like platform for connecting sports fans with their favorite athletes, teams, brands, and sports properties is LockerDome’s app. Likened to “LinkedIn for sports,” athletes can create their own personas and profiles in a social community that acts as both a private and professional network for everyone from professional athletes to youth programs. LockerDome has since released a new site that’s not all about sports, with a tagline to “collect anything,” but the sports communities are still a viable source for information and communication.
For more of a gamification take on sports apps, sports game startup PrePlay’s app acts as a second screen companion while users are watching live sports on TV. The app provides a social gaming environment in which users can compete with other sports fans by predicting the outcome of the game play-by-play, by winner, final score, and so on. It provides an engaging social experience for fans that they can have from home even when they’re not able to be out at a sports bar making bets with the other fans around them.
Other types of specialized sports apps provide useful information platforms for sports participants as well. Startup Weendy, for example, has developed an extreme sports weather app that combines weather information from weather stations with observations provided by other Weendy users. This way, extreme sports participants can find out how preferable the weather is before they head out without having to search many different websites. Users can contribute updates on specific locations and post photos and videos to back up that information.
These are just a few of the many apps that offer fans a variety of streaming and engagement options for interacting with their favorite sports, and more are sure to come in the future.
Between the Internet, mobile devices, social media, and apps, technology has forever changed the way sports fans watch and engage with the sports they follow. As technology progresses exponentially, that sports experience is subject to change still more in the future, so fans will have to wait and see for what’s next.
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