A Primer In Sports Event App Best Practices

The lead item in Media Post’s July 10 Marketing Insider includes an SLRG research informed primer on those elements most essential for creating a compelling event based sports app.

As sports properties seek to create greater connectivity and enhance the fan experience, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of designing sports apps and other digital offerings.

The adoption curve of these apps is driven not only by target audience demographics and behaviors, but also by the nuances of a particular property.

Here are some key content and navigational best practices for digital teams looking to check all of the right boxes for bringing a complex event to fans across a wide range of engagement levels.

Story-telling and staying on top of the action. First and foremost, the most successful sports event apps recognize that fans use digital channels to enhance the organic experience of attending or viewing that event.  This means first and foremost keeping people up to speed on the scoring essentials and then digging below that surface, through easy and intuitive navigation to insights on why and how things may have occurred.

In the best applications that we’ve observed, this goes beyond a box score or leaderboard to incorporate retrospective play-by-play elements — and, in some cases, providing historical benchmarks and real-time expert commentary that place the score in an appropriate context.

Real-time video also plays a role here, not to rehash what users have likely already seen, but to enhance it from different angles, or supplement it with advanced analytics that bring it further to life.

The most highly appreciated event apps recognize that not all users have extensive event knowledge and provide extra content layers.  For example, at the recent U.S. Open, Amanda Weiner and her USGA  (disclosure: a client) digital team were confronted with multiple challenges posed by an expansive physical field of play. Some of this was addressed through an AI-enhanced video solution, adjacent to concurrent shot-by-shot detail accessible through an interactive course map.

Complete player biographies are also important, providing casual fans with an element of story-telling and background.

Personalized immersion and interactivity. Story-telling transcends what’s happening on the playing field to encompass a user’s personal event experience.  The best apps have been designed to put users into the action, with virtual reality elements enabling them to hold the trophy or explore the locker room.  Others cover a more basic but needed focus on real-time wayfinding, solving for the onsite challenge of navigating from the parking lot to one’s seat and other onsite amenities or activations.

The best interactive elements allow spectators to isolate (and in the case of golf, locate) specific players, and simultaneously track their performance through shot charts and other drill-downs into those statistics with personal relevance for users.