SBD/March 18, 2011/Media

Turner’s “MMOD” Feed Delivers On iPad, Has Its Hiccups On iPhone

After successful years on computer, MMOD expands to the iPad this year
Turner Sports added the iPad as a platform for the popular March Madness on Demand this year, delivering terrific picture quality for Thursday's early games and a bevy of fun features on the tablet device. The free iPad app downloaded and loaded without trouble, opening to the main screen highlighted by a center video console. The main page also features a scoreboard header, team and player statistics synched with the selected game and a handful of permanent on-screen advertisements. NCAA sponsors AT&T, Coca-Cola and Capital One have logo placement in the upper right corner of the screen, while a fourth rotating ad sits directly under the video. Buick and HP, among others, activated in that space. In addition to watching any game on the main page, viewers can switch to zoomed-in feed that eliminates all surrounding ads and game information, offering only the live video. The game coverage streamed well both in the smaller and larger video screens. As in past years with the MMOD computer feed, the video was behind the live TV feed (about 30 seconds on the iPad) and had a handful of hiccups when it needed to buffer. For the most part, however, CBS delivered a remarkably crisp, smooth picture on the iPad. The MMOD app does not offer the famous “Boss Button” on the iPad, but it does feature handy tie-ins to Facebook and Twitter. Users can click one button and type a post for either social media outlet, all while keeping the game video in the background. The messages posted to Twitter just as quickly as it would on the company's own website, and caused no noticeable delays in the iPad app. Meanwhile, the MMOD experience on the iPhone, greatly expanded this year from a more limited pay model last year to a free application, was very much a mixed bag in the tournament's early going. With solid, strong 3G or Wi-Fi connections, video flowed well and in near real-time. But anything less than an optimal connection quickly prompted video dropouts, lags in score updates and a general loss of fluidity within the app, not unlike a dynamic seen for other mobile distributions of live sports (Helfrich & Fisher, THE DAILY).

iWITNESS ACCOUNT: In Houston, David Barron writes, "March Madness on Demand worked smoothly for me on Comcast's broadband network, although I'm not crazy about the fact that the screen goes dark during commercials and you can't mute the sound or change to another game. The MMOD mobile application took forever to load on the iPhone but worked well (albeit 40 seconds behind the TV picture) once it loaded" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/18). CNET.com's Rick Broida noted the MMOD app works for iPads, iPods and iPhones and wrote, "If you like college basketball, you need this app, plain and simple. It's free, and it's fantastic" (CNET.com, 3/17). On Twitter, Sports media blogger Ken Fang wrote, “I love the March Madness on Demand app giving me alerts when a game is close. On the web, ‘Crunch Time’ is under the score of a close game." But GMR Marketing Dir of Sports Strategy Jonathan Norman wrote, "Not liking how @MarchMadness On Demand video lags behind scoreboard at top of app. Score tells final outcome before video. Fail" (TWITTER.com, 3/17).
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