I knew March Madness was truly on when I ended up at a concert sitting next to a work colleague who was watching the game on her iPhone via Turner Sports' March Madness Live app. This was topped only by her admission that she and several other Kentucky Wildcats fans streamed a game during a friend's wedding reception.
Enabling TV Everywhere for sports fans obviously increases viewing. This makes sense given the DVR downside of inadvertantly hearing scores prior to time-shifted viewing. So what overlapping strategic purposes do interactive television marketing and TV everywhere share?
Let's answer that by scoring some college basketball apps.
From Slam Dunk to Blocked Shot
1. Slam Dunk: The ability to watch on the go with the March Madness Live app clearly cues up more opportunities for fans to engage interactively. First, simply because of greater view time and second, perhaps more important, because second screen devices currently better facilitate interactivity (tablets a case in point). At $3.99 for all platforms (kudos on accepting Paypal), this is a slam dunk even if it did entail a lot of squinting on my phone. CBSSports.com continues to score with free on-line viewing when airing games on their network.
2. Field Goal: With the March Madness Live app, I can easily read player shot stats and game stats and see a pic of a player along with some highlight stats. (I would have liked the ability to delve deeper into individual player histories.) Even better I can view the entire bracket at a glance (on the iPad) along with prior results and upcoming matches and game times. This feature drove incremental viewing for my colleague as she wanted to get a jump on who might be playing her team. Verizon FIOS recently launched a widget that enables fans to see and interact with their own and others' ESPN brackets on the big screen. Read the interview with Verizon and Ensequence at [itvt].
3. Blocked Shot: Via March Madness Live, CBSSports.com or NCAA.com fans could variously follow twitter feeds, tweet support for their team, check-in for a GetGlue sticker, take a poll and post Facebook updates. So tick the box in terms of integrating social media with these interactive platforms. But what I really want is to either follow the experts (CBS featured two on their site) or players themselves or join a conversation with my buddies. The first will inform me and the latter will entertain me. Random tweets from across the globe do neither. Facebook gets me closer but not all my friends appreciate college hoops. Time to curate social media. Google+ anyone?
I'd encourage you to watch a game or two with your mobile, tablet or laptop handy and see if you agree or disagree with the above points.
Will Keller is president of WE Keller Group, a consulting firm that advises corporate executives on interactive television marketing strategy and execution. For more iTV insights, follow Will on Twitter and subscribe to Inside the Screen, his monthly summary of the latest iTV trends and strategies.