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BBC rethinks its sports app

Allan Swann
January 7, 2013

The BBC has relaunched its BBC Sport app for Apple’s iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch) today, and while still very much a work in progress, its new bells and whistles should attract casual and hard-core sports fans alike.

The new app has a customisable menu (sliding your finger left and right, similar to the new Facebook app) which allows users to keep on top of the sports they’re interested in, and filtering out those they aren’t. This means your die-hard Chelsea supporter won’t be bombarded with updates about curling or tennis if they don’t want to.

The rapid growth of smartphones over the last few years has made mobile a particularly important platform for BBC Sport audiences. Mobile devices account for a third of BBC Sport’s total traffic, rising to over 40% at weekends and peaking at 45% on Saturday afternoons, as the nation accesses the final scores from wherever they may be.

 BBC’s Lucie McLean told What Mobile that there has been a particular focus on improving the broadcaster’s focus on football to start with, from gossips and transfers, to live text coverage of the Premier League. These same features are also available for Six Nations (rugby) fans and the upcoming F1 season.

One of the key focuses has been the addition of new football live scores section, which operates in a ‘second screen’ fashion – you can have it live updating with stats and info while you’re watching the game on TV – or even in the stadium. It provides a league-by-league overview of the latest scores and goal scorers at a glance, with dedicated match pages for more in-depth information, bringing together starting line-ups, match stats, live text commentary and the post-game report.

In addition, a new fixtures and results section has been developed to help you keep on top of all the major UK and international football competitions, by simply selecting any day in the season from the app’s calendar. There’s also easy access to live streams from Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra for even more great sports coverage.

At this stage more sophisticated features, such as live and on-demand video highlights and podcasts will be added in future updates. Live notifications (such as when your team is playing, or a goal is scored) will be added later. McLean says the app is ‘very much an ongoing, and evolving process’.

The App will cover 46 sports initially (although the more advanced features will not be available for every one). McLean says the app will also be flexible enough to include special one-off events, such as the 2014 Football World Cup, and the 2016 Olympics, both held in Rio De Janeiro.

The Android version of the app will be introduced soon (no date was confirmed). The BBC is also planning a version for international users (this is currently UK only) down the road. There are no plans to create a tablet or iPad version as of yet – McLean says that those users generally use the extra screen real estate to simply go and see the full BBC Sport website. Similarly, Windows Phone 8, Blackberry 10 and other variants of Android (Amazon, Nook etc.) will not be getting versions at this stage.

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