SBD/January 21, 2014/Media

Bleacher Report Team Stream For iPhone Engages The User With News, Social

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Personalization is the unique selling point in Bleacher Report’s Team Stream app, an ad-supported, free download developed in-house by Bleacher Report. Users select the sports and teams they want to follow, and a customized feed presents relevant information within the app's home screen. News is the most prominent offering, followed by scores. Social media touch points are offered throughout the app, and the depth potential for user engagement is limitless. Team Stream is based around three straightforward functions: Edit, Team Stream and Scores. Using the Edit function, users can select national breaking news, league news, player news and news by sport. The app's home screen is then populated with these user-selected, orderable news feeds, which include original features from Bleacher Report writers, aggregated articles from other media outlets, video and social media posts. The Team Stream function offers a time-stamped, reverse chronological listing of news notifications according to user preferences. Tapping an item in this feed leads to a story-specific position in the full Team Stream news feed. The Scores section can be customized to show scores and schedules for selected teams, top games, leagues and sports. But for detailed game information such as previews, live stats or recaps, users are redirected out of the app and linked to other sources. I conducted this week's review on an iPhone 5 version 7.0.4, with AT&T service.

WOW-FACTORS: Social media integration within Team Stream is excellent. Team-based news is intertwined with local media talent and professional athlete tweets. Replying and re-tweeting is simple, and everything is sharable via a set of icons in the app's lower navigation. The ability to curate player-specific news is a custom offering within Team Stream. Yahoo Fantasy Import takes this feature to the next level by bringing a user's fantasy team into the app, so there is no need to go elsewhere for news. A sign-in to Yahoo is required. Geo-location services bring local teams to the top of the list of notifications for user convenience. In addition, when viewing the Scores feed, users have the choice of viewing just their team news or their team news in addition to top national stories. The app's Swagger feed -- a gossipy stream of news and video -- does a nice job of dragging users into story after story, encouraging further distribution of content.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: The Send to Friends feature, which might be better titled as "Start a Group," brings high quality user interaction into the app. Any piece of news, text or video is sharable via e-mail, SMS, Twitter or Facebook with this feature. The shared content then lives within a group chat that can be accessed from the home screen feed. Why is this not a wow-factor? It didn't work. While the app told me that I had shared successfully, the content did not actually get to my friends. According to Bleacher Report, there are roughly 40,000 people actively using this tool, so it is working for some -- just not me. Aside from a basic score block, tapping on past, live or future game listings sends users to different places for information depending on sport. Tapping an NBA game leads to the NBA's Game Hub; NHL games link to ESPN NHL; College Basketball sends users to the NCAA's GameCast tool. It all works, but is just inconsistent in its sourcing. Meanwhile, there is a generous amount of video in this app, but no video advertising. Aside from small display units below content, ads are basically nonexistent. There is a lot of room for growth here, such as the practice of inserting ads before a video begins.

BOTTOM LINE: A highly engaging way to consume sports news, Team Stream solidly serves the fan seeking customization, breaking news notifications and social chatter. While basic game information is available, this app is not for the fan that wants to follow live action on the second screen. Outside of the Send to Friends tool, social sharing functions go off without a hitch. All in all, Bleacher Report puts forth an on-trend, usable application with a powerful and addictive information punch.

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

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