Mobile

ESPN hopes to own mobile, starting with a new college football app

ESPN already considers mobile its fourth largest network (after the ESPN and ESPN2 TV networks and ESPN.com), but this isn’t stopping the company from focusing even further on mobile devices.

The company will soon debut new college football mobile apps, which will also serve as the template for future mobile sports apps, ESPN Mobile general manager Michael Bayle said today at our MobileBeat conference in a conversation with Accel Partners’ Rich Wong.

While we didn’t see the app in action, Bayle discussed how it would focus on things like a new navigation model, live engagement, and reviewing of sports games. The app will show trending scores, in-progress clips for certain games, and the usual breaking news and alerts. On the reviewing side, you’ll have access to video highlights and game recaps. Bayle claims that the app will, incredibly, have access to some clips within 6 seconds of their airing.

Bayle says ESPN now sees 20 million to 30 million unique users across all of its mobile properties. The company also peaks 300,000 average users per minute during popular games, and it reaches around a third of the U.S. mobile population. That’s not surprising, given that it’s freaking ESPN, but it’s a reminder that the company has a unique opportunity to tap into mobile sports fans.

In terms of app usage, Bayle says iOS accounts for 50 percent of its total mobile usage, while Android makes up 43 percent. The remainder is made up of BlackBerry and Windows Phone.

Bayle points out that mobile is a particularly important market for sports, as many fans often want to check scores right before they go to bed or as soon as they wake up. Both are points when consumers will likely interact with their mobile devices before other things (as Bayle showed with a quick show of hands from the audience).


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