SBD/December 17, 2013/Media

App Review: The Year's Best From The Four Major Pro Leagues

As mobile consumption of sports news and information surged in '13, the official mobile applications of the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB went under the microscope. These reviews highlighted standout features, basic offerings and areas for improvement. Based on the findings, winners for this year's Best of the League Apps were selected in six categories: social media integration, live video features, video-on-demand offering, second-screen experience, engagement tactics and subscription model.  

NBA Game Time offers an easy link to Twitter, as
well as a pre-populated hashtag
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION
: NBA Game Time's Pulse section, which features an interactive Twitter feed. Within all game screens, a prominent Twitter icon presents a quick opportunity for fans to post to their feeds using the pre-populated hashtag #nbagametime. A Facebook share function also is available within all live and on-demand video.

BEST LIVE VIDEO FEATURES: NBA Game Time's in-stream stats. The Game Time live video player features live stats by team and concurrent game listings, making this the only app to offer more than just a live video feed. A ticker with team logos, scores, time and time-outs remaining also is offered within the player during games.

BEST VOD OFFERING: NFL Mobile, because of its timeliness and depth of highlights. Game highlights are made available almost instantaneously within NFL Mobile. Also, the number of clips was unmatched by other league apps, with more than 20 highlight videos available per game on average. Honorable mentions include MLB At Bat's condensed game recaps with raw audio, and NBA Game Time's daily highlights set to music.

MLB At Bats's second-screen experience brings
deep statistical data click-throughs
BEST SECOND-SCREEN EXPERIENCE
: MLB At Bat's Live Pitch Tracker. While a game is being played, At Bat 13 opens a flashy pitch-by-pitch simulation showing pitcher and batter statistics. Individual plays can be expanded to show the speed and type of each pitch, the count and the result. A graphical depiction of the field offers clickable player names for even more statistical data. Note: MLB At Bat was reviewed during the World Series. A full review of the app's regular-season feature set will be conducted in '14.

BEST SUBSCRIPTION MODEL: NHL GameCenter's Premium Upgrade. For $9.99, NHL GameCenter Premium offers live radio broadcasts, in-game video highlights and condensed game replays. Verizon customers get live broadcasts of NBC national games, NBC's Inside the Glass and NHL On The Fly (4G LTE only). If only for the condensed games, this upgrade is worth the added expense.

BEST USER ENGAGEMENT TACTICS: NBA Game Time's Excitement Alerts. NBA Game Time sends push notifications for close games and other must-watch action. In addition to a range of basic game alerts, individual player alerts can be set for double doubles and triple doubles, among other things. Alert notifications include a View Now button that makes toggling between live streams simple and exciting.

NBA Game Time offers customizable alerts for
scores or certain player acheivements 
OVERALL BEST OF LEAGUE APPS
: Of the four league apps, NBA Game Time proved the most well rounded, fan-centric experience. Not only does the freemium offering entice fans to convert to paid, the app also includes a solid social media presence, standout in-stream video features and a lengthy list of interactive game alerts. Editing highlight clips to music makes this app's user experience fresh and relevant. For these reasons, NBA Game Time is the top league app for '13.

Amie Sheridan (amie.sheridan31@gmail.com) is a writer in Philadelphia.

See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY: 
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