SBD/May 10, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Athletes Increasingly Looking To Develop Mobile Apps As Way To Grow Their Brand

Ronaldo is one of many athletes who has developed a personal app with RockLive
Current and former athletes increasingly are "contracting with software developers to create branded apps and expand their marketing reach," according to Satariano & MacMillan of the S.F. CHRONICLE. App developer RockLive co-Founder John Shahidi said, "We've been approached by a ton of different athletes." Managers for Usain Bolt in the summer of '11 approached RockLive to "help enhance the sprinter's brand for the London Games." Shahidi's team built a "simple action game, 'Bolt,' in which the athlete fights off pirates to claim his gold, with the occasional Gatorade energy boost." Shahidi also built a soccer app for Real Madrid F Cristiano Ronaldo and a boxing app for Mike Tyson. He said, "With their growing numbers on social media, they have the power to build something that they can co-own versus just giving their name out as part of a licensing deal." Satariano & MacMillan report while there are "hundreds of thousands of apps for sale on Apple's App Store and Google's Play service, athletes have an outsize ability to cut through the noise." Some athletes' apps are "tied to their sport," as with MLB Giants C Buster Posey's home run derby-themed "Buster Bash." Others, like Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez' "exercise-regimen app FitStar, are more general fitness tools." Pro Football HOFer Joe Montana has "spent $100,000 to build 'iMFL,' a fantasy-football app." Sports apps in March "comprised about 3.4 percent of programs with active users in Apple's App Store and Google Play, compared with 4.3 percent the previous year." Tyson, whose boxing game had "an OK run in the App Store before being removed for updating, did little beyond lending his name and doing some marketing appearances." App deals between athletes and software developers are "structured in various ways but often involve joint ownership, with both sides sharing revenue from downloads and ads." The sports stars' agents and managers "typically take the lead on the deals" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/10).
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