With the boom of mobile apps in recent years, current marketplaces on Apple and Google offer a wide range of content, games, and services. While the choice is key for consumers, finding efficient and well-designed apps can be difficult.
In the second fiscal quarter of 2019 alone, sports fans spent nearly $100 million on sports apps between the Google and Apple markets. According to Sensor Tower research, net revenue growth in the industry is set to boom to $520 million by 2023, which means the number of apps will only increase.
At the moment, app offerings range from news curation to live updates to fantasy leagues. But when it comes to finding dynamic personalization and clean design, only a handful of apps pass the test.
Personalization is Key
For the standard sports fan, knowing where to find relevant news rather than trending stories is of utmost importance. While streaming apps like DAZN remain popular in terms of overall downloads, apps like theScore and Bleacher Report allow users to seamlessly curate their preferred sports news.
Both apps are updated as news breaks, though Bleacher Report leads in live updates. Users are also able to create libraries of their favorite stories. However, only theScore has mastered in-app messaging for group chats.
Additional social media sharing capabilities bring theScore even closer to sports fans, as does their newly launched sportsbook. Since 2018, many long-time sports news apps have shifted to include sportsbooks (Bleacher Report not included). However, it’s not yet clear if sports news agencies have the force to transfer longtime readers to their point spreads.
On one hand, a company that focuses on delivering the latest in sports news has a handle on the industry and likely knows what punters are after. On the other hand, certain pundits and experts who offer major league wagers have ample experience broadcasting about all things sports-related. The jury’s still out on which field translates better to creating a successful sportsbook.
While theScore is an efficient app, Bleacher Report’s engaging and clean design makes it a favorite for many techies—though there are still a few kinks to work out. The app’s revolving home screen shifts between a user’s top teams.
LiveScore, which has provided live sports updates since 1998, has unsurprisingly executed a user-friendly design that doesn’t skimp on design. Live commentary features don’t leave the interface clunky, while the clean layout allows users to skim stories seamlessly.
The Athletic offers a truly unique design compared to other top apps—though it comes with a monthly subscription. The Athletic focuses on in-depth analysis of a wide range of sports, which means the publication can release up to 1,000 high-quality news reports each week.
As such, the app’s design is reminiscent of online publications like the New York Times, featuring rich fonts with a clean dark screen background. Alongside professional journalists, the app features pictures from top photographers, adding a well-appointed and curated feel.
As niche apps inundate the sports market, innovative features will help set popular apps apart from the competition. For example, SofaScore is gaining steam in the US after emerging as a top soccer app in Europe. In addition to its bright and intuitive interface, the app features a bell that notifies users when a relevant game is about to start.
Best of the Big Four
While some apps need to innovate to set themselves apart, many already have a solid foothold. In the US, ‘the big four’ sports have sizable user counts. This is largely because the NHL, NFL, MLB, and NBA can offer exclusive news related not only to games but to drafts and combines.
However, only MLB has managed to simulate a ballpark experience with their app design. With detailed pitch-by-pitch coverage set in a design familiar to any baseball fan, the app brings fans closer to feeling in the ballpark.
In a similar bid to cater to nostalgia, the NBA app allows users to stream classic games from the 80s and 90s. With their NBA League Pass feature, fans can even experience games courtside.