Sports – Forever changed by digital media

In The Zone

If your a fan of the NFL, then you probably already know what the Red Zone channel is.  For those of you who don’t know, Red Zone is a channel that shows every touchdown from every NFL game on Sundays.  The channel switches between every game to the teams that are the closest to the “Red Zone” (within 20 yards of the end zone).  This way, fans can experience all the exciting action from every game without having to change the channel.

Not only does Red Zone show every single touchdown from every game, the also provide up-to-the-minute fantasy stats, for the millions of fantasy football players out there:

NFL Network’s Scott Hanson, the host of Red Zone

If you happen to be out and about during the NFL games, you can always watch Red Zone on your phone with NFL Mobile.  This is incredibly convenient, and lets every fan have the opportunity to watch every NFL game, whether they are in front of a TV or not.

One of the most popular aspects of Red Zone are the replays of the touchdowns after the 4:15 games.  Once all the 1:00 and 4:15 games have finished, Red Zone shows every single highlight of every touchdown scored that afternoon.  It is an incredible compilation of the best plays of the day, making sure everyone is caught up with all the action from NFL Sundays.

If watching this live isn’t enough for you, you can always go online and watch NFL Red Zone Videos, to watch Red Zone highlights from prior weeks.

This idea is revolutionary, in that it shows the most important parts from every NFL game.  The average fan can now become more knowledgable by getting to see every team in the league, something that isn’t available with regular cable.  I myself have been exposed to many more teams and players by watching the Red Zone channel every Sunday.  It is an NFL fan’s dream, and will be around for a long, long time.

One Stop Shop

When looking up tickets to the big upcoming sports game, you are saddened to find out that they are all sold out.  This means your totally out of luck, right?  Wrong!  With StubHub, you can now find tickets to pretty much all upcoming sporting events with ease. For those of you who don’t know what StubHub is, it is an online marketplace owned by ebay, where users can sell or buy tickets to upcoming events, and StubHub takes a 20-25% commission.  It is very much like a stock market, matching buyers and sellers of tickets.

Much like many other websites, StubHun personalizes the experience by asking where you are located and then presenting the many different ticket options available in that area.  For example, on my account I have Washington D.C. listed as my location, and these are the results I get for upcoming events:

Upcoming Sporting events in the Washington D.C. area

StubHub also conveniently lists how many tickets are available for each event, letting the buyer know how quickly he or she must act in order to make sure they can get a ticket at the price they want.  For many users, going to directly to StubHub for tickets is more convenient than trying to find where the tickets are originally sold on the web, and are willing to pay the extra fee for the convenience.

This service is not just limited to the computer either.  With StubHub Mobile, you can manage your ticket sales and purchases on the go with the StubHub app for the iPhone, Android, or Windows phone.

iPhone Screen Shot of StubHub Mobile app

StubHub gives sports fans the chance to expand their horizons and see what other types of sporting events are out there in the local area.  There are over 35 different categories of sports tickets in the sports section of StubHub.  With this convenience and diversity it offers, it’s easy to see why StubHub has been such a success for sports fans everywhere.

Ear Candy

With the creation of Sirius XM Satellite Radio, sports fans everywhere can now conveniently listen to their favorite teams in the car no matter where they are.  Before Sirius radio, fans were stuck listening to the local broadcast, which was fine if you were home listening to the team you root for, but what if you were out of town?  There was simply no way to get the radio broadcast unless of course you were at a computer, but in a car there was nothing you could do.

So satellite radio comes along and now allows you to listen to over 12 different types of live sports taking place all over the country.  The live sports schedule can be found online and will be able to direct you to the correct channel that your team is on.  For example, here is a list of upcoming MLB games and what channel they can be found on:

Upcoming MLB games on Sirius

You also have the option of listening to the home or away broadcast, depending on if the team your rooting for has a home game or is on the road.  This gives fans the comfort of listening to the announcers they’ve grown to love.  I know for me, listening to a Phillies game broadcast by Harry Kalas was much more enjoyable than an announcer of a different team.  Listening to the home broadcast really gave me a connection with the team I was not able to feel otherwise.

There is also an interactive side to SiriusXM.  Every week they host a Pigskin Pick’em game where fans can pick football games on Sundays and compare them to SiriusXM hosts for a chance to win a tour of the NFL Radio Studios in New York City.  Fans can test their knowledge against the experts, bringing them closer to the game and the voices they listen to every day.

SiriusXM also offers Internet Radio, which allows you to listen to its content on a plethora of devices such as your computer, your smartphone, tablet, or any other internet-connected device.  There is even the option to pause live radio:

SiriusXM Internet Radio allows you to “pause” live radio

Users can pretty much access SiriusXM 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with Internet Radio.  This is pretty much as convenient as it gets, and sports fans like myself are very thankful.  We are now more in tune and knowledgable about the sports we love than ever before.

What Can Apps Do For You?

One of the main benefits of having a smart phone or tablet is that there are literally thousands of apps at your fingertips at all times.  The two most popular platforms for apps are Android apps and iPhone/iPad/iPod apps.  While it may seem intimidating at first, you can break it down by category and view the sports apps for both Android and Apple respectively.

While there are many popular sports apps, one of the most commonly used is the ESPN SportsCenter app for Apple (there is also one for Android).  With this app, fans can check scores on the go, read articles, and get real time updates about their favorite teams.  Here is an example of a screen shot taken on an iPhone of one fan’s customized app:

iPhone ESPN Sportscenter app screen shot

Since this fan seems to be from Chicago, he or she can get updates about all the Chicago teams as well as alerts sent to his or her phone whenever the score changes in any game they may be interested in.

Another extremely popular app is the Yahoo Sports Fantasy football app, available for both Apple and Android.  With this app, fantasy football owners can make line-up changes and check fantasy scores from just about anywhere, as long as they have access to a smart phone or tablet.

The convenience and simplicity of these sports apps, as well as many others, allows for the common sports fan to have a more in depth experience with whichever sport he or she favors.  Aside from being able to check scores and news updates from just about anywhere, fans can also work on their own athletic prowess by using popular apps such as Golf Genie Practice Drills Pro to help perfect one’s golf swing.

The personalized nature of these apps is what makes them so powerful and effective.  Each and every fan has a different experience with their sports apps when they turn on their mobile device.  Sports fans can definitely rest easy knowing the future of these apps gets brighter every day.

Streaming for the 21st Century

Do you ever find that the sports on TV just aren’t filling your viewing desires?  Do you sometimes wish you could explore what sports other people around the world are watching?  Well, with ESPN3 you can.  ESPN3 is an online streaming website, that broadcasts a wide array of live global events that are currently not airing on television.  It delivers live streams and replays of events to sports fans in the following places:

  • North America
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Middle East
  • New Zealand
  • Europe (except Italy)

This extremely diverse subset of people allows for sports that are not so common in each country to be viewed at the pleasure of each individual fan.  For example, take me.  I have a vague understanding of cricket and how it works, however I have never seen it played live.  With ESPN3, I can watch replays or live streams of cricket events and broaden my sports viewing horizons.  Here is an example of the different matches I could watch:

Cricket matches available for viewing on ESPN3

With the click of a button, I can instantly be taken into a different world and experience a brand new sport that would normally be completely foreign to me without the help of online streaming.

Being able to watch on a laptop computer also allows for sports viewing on the move, something that is not feasible with television.  On the other hand, if you’d like to watch on a bigger screen, ESPN3 can be viewed via Xbox Live as of 2010.  This allows for people without internet providers that are ESPN affiliates to experience ESPN3 first hand.

This product is connecting people globally through sports, and it is incredibly remarkable.  Now, more than ever, a fan can appreciate how people in other countries view sports.  It allows for a broader understanding of global sports and reminds us that no matter the country, we are all driven and motivated by athletic competition.

One Nation, Under Sports

SportsNation, which airs on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN America, and ESPNews is one of the most fan friendly shows on the air today.  The show is based on SportsNation, which is the fan forum and poll section of ESPN.com.  Fans can respond to polls or submit thoughts via Facebook, Twitter, or the SportsNation section of ESPN.com.

When a poll is posted on one of these websites and a fan answers the poll, they can then tune in to the TV show the next day to find out how the rest of the country feels about certain popular sports topics or debates.  For example, here is a poll that is currently being asked on the SportsNation section of ESPN.com:

A poll on SportsNation

A fan can answer the question and then watch the show tomorrow afternoon where the results will be posted.  This is a way to help fans feel closer to the sports and athletes they love to watch and admire.

The SpotsNation Facebook page also posts pictures on it that fans can “Like”, and then see if the rest of the country agrees with them or feels strongly about a particular sports topic.  Fan’s can also answer polls or submit videos or opinions to the SportsNation twitter page, where they may end up on TV.  This gives fans extra incentive to submit videos and watch the TV show in the hopes that they may actually see the video they submit on the air.

SportsNation really is an incredible concept, and like many other TV shows these days, is doing an incredible job of involving the masses in making it a better show.  Personally, I feel that this show creates a feeling of unity among the sports fan community around the country.  Fans want to see what other fans think, and they want the chance to get their own submissions on TV.  You never know, the next video aired on SportsNation could be yours.

Twitter: A fan’s best friend

Twitter has changed the fan-athelete relationship in sports in numerous ways.  Before Twitter, fans only means of communicating with athletes was via fan mail or autograph signings.  With Twitter, fans can tweet at athletes and potentially get a response or a retweet from the athlete him/herself.  Here is an example of Chad Ochocinco, an NFL wide receiver, tweeting at a fan asking for a response:

Chad Ochocinco retweeting a fan

In this situation a fan, Victor Gonzalez, called our Ochocinco for not responding to his tweets for the past 2 years.  Before Twitter this fan would not have had any vehicle to reach out to Ochocinco, other than writing a letter which most likely would have ended up in the trash basket.  Gonzalez got to meet Ochocinco, who paid for his tickets, hotel room and flight up to New England to see the Patriots play the Denver Broncos in a divisional NFL playoff game.

Athletes have also started to break news to fans via twitter, which used to be done purely in interviews on the radio or television.  For example, David Clowney IV, a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills decided to tweet his HIV results:

David Clowney tweeting his HIV results

This is obviously a very extreme case of what type of news athletes are releasing via Twitter, however it does go to show how personal and private the information is that athletes tweet for the fans to see.  Usually an athlete will tweet updates about his or her life, however tweets like this do happen every now and then.

With Twitter, fans and athletes are closer than ever before.  Athletes will continue to respond to tweet and fans will continue to respond, benefiting from the feeling of being close to their heroes.