By: Spencer Kennedy
ESPN has finally rebranded its most popular segment – “SportsCenter” – as a mobile application. The beginning of this story dates back to June 2009 when ESPN launched its ScoreCenter app to accommodate viewers’ migration to mobile platforms. Originally, the app was solely intended to provide instant updates regarding game scores in major sports, hence the title “ScoreCenter”. At the time, this was an effective enough strategy given that mobile streaming was a relatively new frontier with less demanding expectations. This new transition to a more fully equipped SportsCenter app signifies the progress that has since been made in the mobile communications industry; it also demonstrates ESPN’s savvy.
The evolution to mobile platforms has not benefitted all entities of the communications industry equally. Most notably, newspapers have struggled enormously to keep up with the leaner and more efficient technology companies, evidenced by layoffs, fewer original stories, and declining readerships. SportsCenter – which is indeed a newscast – and its new mobile component are demonstrating ESPN’s attempt to stay relevant in a changing landscape. Although “SportsCenter” was never published as a traditional newspaper, it is experiencing similar downward trends – albeit on a less dramatic scale. The idea behind the new app is to revamp the original version in order to provide a more authentic newspaper feel. ESPN is well aware that the future of communications will involve highly mobilized content, and they believe this rebrand will give them a competitive edge in the growing market.
Perhaps the largest addition to the SportsCenter app is the upgraded video feature. Previously, viewers could only watch brief recap videos and isolated clips. New video capabilities will deliver more in-depth highlights and news stories; the app will also be synced with ESPN’s Watch ESPN app that streams live games. SportsCenter will signal to users which games are being currently broadcast and will provide one-click access (another related industry trend) to the live stream courtesy of Watch ESPN. Apart from creating a more fluid and fulfilling experience for viewers, the new video layout creates a huge opportunity for ESPN to sell more advertisements. As traditional media providers become more dependent on advertising dollars, producers are looking to fill every possible “white space” with ads.
ESPN’s rejuvenation of its mobile app reflects what is occurring, on a broader scale, in the communications industry today. Traditional media companies are battling to stay relevant; new companies are honing in on mobile platforms; both parties are searching for new revenue streams in a changing landscape. The structure of the industry in being rearranged. SportsCenter’s makeover is just one instance of many that describe other companies’ behavior as well. Regardless of how you think this restructuring will affect you and your lifestyle – and indeed it will – this will be an event stay engaged with.
By: Spencer Kennedy