NPR has a great story about how this year’s March Madness college basketball tournament will be the biggest year yet for viewership on mobile screens. Listen to the full story here. One striking detail is a comment from ESPN. In a nutshell, the broadcaster says it aims to make sure all video content it produces looks good on the mobile screen first and then scales up to the tablet, desktop, and television. The story also talks about how all the mobile providers are pushing hard to get sports fans to watch the games on their phones.
While it’s certainly possible to watch the game on your phone, I’m still not convinced that mobile video is the way of the future for sports. Having the ability to watch the game on your phone is an amazing workaround for the difficult situations sports fans sometimes find themselves in when the big game conflicts with other plans. But watching on your phone isn’t the ideal. The value of mobile video for sports fans is that it’s a great supplemental, not a replacement. Any numbers that come out of March Madness are going to be a little suspect. The tournament has always been a daytime affair, and college basketball fans have always found ways to watch at work. So while mobile video will be huge for this year’s March Madness, I’m just not sure we’ll see it carry over to other sports. After all, Sundays are a television ritual during football season. And baseball has more or less given up on day games when the action really counts. Pro basketball is also scheduled around times viewers are likely to be near a television.
All that being said, mobile video is still a huge addition to the sports viewing experience (I just don’t think it will become the preferred No.1 platform). How would I like to use my mobile to view sports? Hmm. Off the top of my head, I’d love to be able to sign-in when I’m at the stadium and get amazing instant replays delivered to my phone. I’m sure someone is working on that.
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