App Review: Golf Channel For iPhone Offers Basic, Text-Heavy Content
Kicking off '14 is a look at Golf Channel's news-based mobile application, developed Vertigo Software. It is one of four apps offered by the Golf Channel. Golf Live Extra, an extension of NBC Sports' live video product; Golf Channel Academy, a freemium instruction-based offering; and GolfNow, a tee-time booking tool, were not reviewed for purposes of this article. Golf Channel for iPhone is a free, ad-supported app offering news, scores and live audio of Golf Channel programming. Content is divided into 10 basic categories: GolfTalkCentral, Opinion & Analysis, News & Original Video, Instruction Video, Photo Galleries, TV Blogs, Fantasy Central, Equipment Insider, Nike Athletes, and Nike Golf R&D. The bulk of these sections offer recent news articles, writer commentary and VOD. Live audio is accessed by tapping a camera icon in the upper navigation. A scores section provides up-to-date coverage of PGA Tour play with a full leaderboard and player-specific statistics. I conducted this week's review with an iPhone 5 version 7.0.4, with AT&T service.
DOUBLE EAGLES: During the PGA Tour Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, there was no shortage of relevant news and scoring information. The app offers a full leaderboard with player names, positions, scores and tee times. Users can select their favorite players to customize the experience. Tapping on the star icon next to a player's name brings his score information to the top of the leaderboard for quicker viewing. Player-specific pages offer even more information including a photo, country of origin and overall score. A hole-by-hole scoring summary is broken into rounds. Tournament air times are also listed within the app.
ON PAR: The order of home screen news feeds is customizable from within the preferences section, and breaking news notifications can also be set here. A fantasy content section is offered along with an equipment insider feed. This is great content, but all in article form. Live audio works well with "Morning Drive." However I was surprised that this was the only Golf Channel show for which live audio was offered. Perhaps they could include "Golf Central" or "Feherty" here as well. For live video, users must download Golf Live Extra, a separate app.
BOGEYS: There is no course information within the app. It would be nice to see a map along with stats and information about tour locations and other famous courses. In addition, there are no social media touch points or interactive features of any kind. VOD content lives within articles and feels very desktop-like in presentation. In my viewing experience, display ads do run below content. However, the app appears to be serving blank ads, as a small "x" can be seen where the ad would appear. Meanwhile, there are no transactional revenue integrations within the app. I feel a PGA Tour ticketing option or an equipment storefront would be natural additions.
BOTTOM LINE: Basic, basic, basic. While the app does offer a great deal of quality information, there is room to expand the offerings with features such as course maps or social media touch points. I believe this news-focused, text-heavy app could easily be combined with other Golf Channel mobile products for a one-stop golf content consumption experience. Either way, Golf Channel can beef up this product with deeper engagement opportunities, better video features and more tournament-specific information.
Amie Sheridan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia. She was previously employed by NBC Sports Group, which owns and operates Golf Channel.
See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
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