Before Eli Manning or Tom Brady throw the first pass of this year's Super Bowl, millions of fans will be tapping, pinching and flicking to get the latest skinny. During the game, they'll be doing the same.
They’ll also be able to tap into social networks during the game to share their comments with other fans across the globe while reclining on the couch.
Welcome to the increasingly ever-connected world of today’s sports fan, where smartphones and tablets mean the latest scores and live action are always close at hand. Mobile apps for sports fans started on smartphones but have quickly moved to tablets with the advent of the iPad.
“I do think this Super Bowl is going to be a milestone event that signals tablets are becoming a real common part of the everyday sports viewing experience,” says Sports Illustrated senior writer Phil Taylor.
“People aren’t going to settle for just watching the game when there are so may other things you can do with a tablet like feature stories and videos, stats, highlights and more that are available before, during and after the game.”
SI is among a growing number of publications that offer an iPad magazine app that includes far more content, including videos, than the print version can offer.
These kinds of additional second-screen content feeds appeal to sports fans like Bob Arabian, who plans to have his iPad close at hand during the Super Bowl. Arabian says he’ll be checking out some of his favorite writers' live blogs during the commercials to get their insights and hear their wisecracks about the action.
“I also like to check on some of the prop bets with the iPad, like how many passes Wes Welker is going to catch. Those kind of things add fun to the game,” says Arabian.
Indeed, there’s certainly no lack of interest in random content connected to the Super Bowl.
A sports junky’s dream
“It’s no secret that sports has always been the kind of experience where there is never enough information. We’re always looking for more stats and replays,” says Paul Kapustka, editor-in-chief of the Mobile Sports Report.
“Now there’s a perfect storm of devices that can capture more digital data than ever thought possible and with high speed data networks and social media like Facebook and Twitter it’s a sports junky’s dream.”
While smartphones are good for checking scores and even viewing highlights and streams of games, a tablet’s larger screen offers more opportunities for .
The NFL, for example, is offering a $2.99 commemorative Superbowl 46 app for Android tablets and the iPad with features about how both the Giant’s and Patriot’s reached Super Bowl XLVI, a breakdown of the game, written recaps and key stats, and “bonus feature” content like all-time, all-star teams and Super Bowl history.
Video highlights of the game, interviews, pictures, animated plays and more will also be available after the game on this app.
“There’s no doubt tablets are driving a ton of this interest,” says Kapustka. “All the data points to more people watching games on their couch with their tablet so they can get more information or connect with friends on Facebook or Twitter.
"It’s become the second screen that’s maybe as important to advertisers as the TV because users are so much more intimately connected and there’s more interaction. Going forward the advertising opportunities are going to be huge.”
Fast growing sports site Bleacher Report hopes to leverage the trend. The company released it’s first application for the iPad last month. The move came as Bleacher Report noticed that users on mobile devices accounted for over 30% of the company’s website traffic compared to only 5% a year ago.
"Over the past year, we've seen a tidal wave in content consumption through mobile devices," said David Finocchio, co-founder and VP of content and product at Bleacher Report. "Through this new tablet experience, Bleacher Report is moving to transform the way fans follow the teams and topics that they care about."