Cell phone technology continues to progress and change every year. Mobile applications are becoming a significant part of the college basketball experience. Television providers are working with advertisers to configure some of the most innovative uses for the technology imaginable.
A search of “college basketball” apps on the IPhone 4 produces 11 different apps to choose from. The development and wide range of these applications allows users to specify how much information they want to receive on their phones. During the championship game this year, mobile apps accounted for 30% of streams. This statistic is up 10% from the 2010 championship game.
Since 2007 CBS has allowed mobile users to stream games, but did not provide coverage of all the games(Howard, 2009). In 2011, if people owned an apple device such as an IPhone, IPad, or IPod Touch, and downloaded the NCAA March Madness on Demand app, they could stream every game of the tournament for free(Tedeschi, 2011). The NCAA March Madness on demand app is not susceptible to blackouts in any areas. The app allows users to view any live game they want, view a running box score, and watch video highlights(Tedeschi, 2011). The app also searches through Twitter and Facebook feeds and publishes the more meaningful posts from regarded analysts throughout the sport.
ESPN Bracket Bound 2011 was another popular app during the NCAA basketball tournament this year. This free app allowed users to access scores, schedules, news, video, research and the Twitter feed(Tedeschi, 2011). These were the two most popular apps from March Madness in 2011, and neither included anything about the women’s tournament. The apps were primarily directed toward the men’s tournament.
Advertisers are beginning to realize the possibilities of advertising on the mobile applications because of their growing popularity among sports fans. Coke Cola teamed up with CBS in 2009 to advertise on their March Madness app that cost $4.99, but is downloaded for free now(Howard, 2009). People are using apps for more than just viewing games. They are playing games, chatting with each other, and looking up statistics. Five of the 10 busiest "peak" minutes of Internet traffic ever were linked to the NCAA tournament, says Akamai, a Web technology firm(Horovitz, 2010).
Though use of mobile apps is on the rise as more consumers are purchasing smart phones, there are still doubts about the effectiveness of mobile ads. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in an interview with BusinessWeek that “mobile ads suck”(Morrisey, 2010). Notorisouly advertising through mobile apps has come in the form of banners similar to the early Internet ads. Miller Lite is using a different approach to become more interactive with consumers. Miller Lite revealed their Tip n’ Sip game during the 2010 tournament to provide a forum to constantly interact with consumers(Horovitz, 2010).
There are no apps representing women’s college basketball. The ratings for the women’s championship game in 2010 were higher than the men’s and they still do not have their own mobile apps. Through all of my research, I did not find a single article in regard to women’s mobile advertising. By purchasing Mobile TV packages through services such as Sprint, users can watch an assortment of cable TV, which includes women’s and men’s games, but these apps can carry high fees and have not become mainstream.
There are several questions that can be raised in regard to the future of mobile apps and sports. In 2011, providers made the two main apps for March Madness free to users, which was a change from the previous two years, but how long will they offer this service free of charge? It is a lucrative market and people enjoy the ability to view games wherever and whenever they choose.
There are several mobile apps for all major sports, but how will other big events such as March Madness be presented to fans. What's so different about the NCAA tournament and, say, the Olympics? Both are big-budget, multi-week events, but NBC puts a good bit of the Games on cable, and cable operators don't like when content they pay for goes online for free(Learnmonth, 2010).
Mobile apps are changing the way we view sports. They are moving from the big screen, to our handheld devices. Currently, the mobile app field is extremely bias based on gender in college basketball because there are no apps that currently exist that are specifically made for women’s basketball.
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