App Review: NBA Game Time For iPhone Offers Intuitive Streaming, Social Savvy
With the NBA regular season off and running, the league's NBA Game Time mobile application goes under review. A week with the app, developed by NBA Digital and Turner Sports, uncovered several social touch points and some standout features. The app was reviewed on an iPhone 5 version 7.0.2, with AT&T service. NBA Game Time is an ad-supported free download that offers scores, schedules, stats, standings, league and team news, live play-by-play, live streaming of press conferences, league highlights and video-on-demand. A $9.99 upgrade to NBA Game Time Plus gets fans home and away live radio broadcasts, game highlights, full game video recaps, and the ability to remove ads. Sprint customers get all of this for free, along with a 20% discount on NBA League Pass Mobile. A subscription to NBA League Pass is $49.99 for mobile viewing only. Also, $189 unlocks access to live games across all platforms, including TV. Activating League Pass on the iPhone requires a simple user ID and password log-in.
TRIPLE-DOUBLES: The live stream offers more than just a clean picture. A ticker appears at the top of the screen with team logos, scores, quarter, game clock and time-outs remaining. In-stream live stats by team and other live game listings are offered at the bottom of the screen. Home and away broadcasts are available for most games. Game highlights are viewable during live play and video recaps populate within minutes of the final buzzer. Within this content, there is a small Facebook icon -- almost mistakable as a glitch in the feed -- that allows instantaneous sharing. A game-by-game "pulse" section has many social touch points, including an interactive Twitter feed and a pre-populated tweet with the hashtag #nbagametime. Customizable league, team and player alerts are available. "Excitement" alerts are particularly impressive, sending push notifications for close games and other must-watch action. Individual alerts for any player can be set for points over 30, 40 or 50, rebound marks, double-doubles, triple-doubles, foul trouble or foul outs. This feature sends a convenient push notification with a clickable "View Now" button that makes toggling between live streams simple and exciting. Game recaps are edited to music. Translation: morning subway ride, headphones and some NBA highlight video.
THREE POINTERS: The Leaders section showcases a trading card style layout of the top player in nine categories, both offensive and defensive. Clicking on a category reveals the Top 10 players for each stat, sortable by position. Video-on-demand is organized in five categories: NBA League Pass, Game Recaps, Video Highlights, League Video and Team Video. Seven highlight videos from Sunday night's action were available at 9:30am ET yesterday. League video categories are creative, concise and well populated. Nightly Notable and Daily Top 10 video sections are particularly well done. Live audio goes off without a hitch, and the app's mobile ticketing integration is clean.
FOUL TROUBLE: On occasion, the score and game clock on the live streaming player do not sync with the live TV graphic within the stream. It appears to be stuck. Elsewhere, clicking into the favorite team roster has no return path to the team-specific landing page. Users must go back to the main menu to view team content. Ads within highlight videos cause some inconvenience. When clicked, the screen freezes and tries to open another window. The play-by-play listing is quirky. It appears to constantly update, but only eight plays are listed at any given time. The app also offers no integration to the NBA or team e-commerce shops.
BOTTOM LINE: NBA Game Time sticks to the basics, delivering on social and presenting its product in a clean and simple way. A souped up live stream complete with live stats separates the app from the crowd. A $50 option to purchase League Pass for mobile makes sense, but hardcore fans can get it across all platforms for less than $200. This app is a well-executed and intuitive tool for NBA fans.
Amie Sheridan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a writer in Philadelphia.