Sports Apps: Reasons for the Sports Industry to Go Mobile

Though there are so many sports fans around the world, 11% fewer people watched the Premier League matches and 10% fewer people viewed the NFL games than the year before, and the tendency remains. In other words, the engagement rates keep dropping for stadium games, and most sports companies in the US claim that these engagement rates are influenced by new technologies and the way the modern generation uses them. 

Take a look at this: according to the Sports Business Institute, 87% of sports fans second screen during a match. They can be looking at replays, checking the scores of other games, or using social networks to boast about attending the game in person. Moreover, generations X and Z prefer consuming digital content to attending games in stadiums. What does this all lead to? Sports facility owners and game organizers get less revenue and have to look for new ways to use the facilities, such as for hosting concerts and other special events. 

But should you keep spending tons of money on marketing campaigns, trying to bring everyone back to the stadiums? Or should you work on attracting the techy fans – like theScore, a Canadian company, that got an additional $22.6 million in 2018 from its mobile app for the sports industry? Keep reading this post to learn how digital technology can help you engage fans and raise your revenue rates. That's how we'll define the importance of mobile apps for the sports industry.

How exactly can apps engage sports fans

Aside from theScore, there are lots of other successful apps – like DAZN, a live broadcasting app that brought $11.5 million in 2018, and an app by ESPN, DAZN’s competitor, which drove $4.7 million in user spending in just a year. How is that possible?

Well, we all switched to the mobile-first era a long time ago. More than one-third of retail sales – worth a total of $1 trillion – are now made from smartphones, so fans expect a sports app to let them buy say a T-shirt with the favorite team’s logo or a ticket to semi-finals. That’s why it’s a great idea to make your app an e-commerce platform for selling merchandise and tickets to sporting events. But, you may also consider creating a mobile app for the sports industry to:

  • supply users with quality sports content, news, and score updates

  • build a welcoming environment where sports fans can interact with each other and with their favorite members of the sports teams

  • provide a betting platform where sports fans can place bets on teams and players

  • engage gamer fans into fantasy sports (we’ll explain what it is a bit later)

Some sports apps concentrate on only one kind of the activities above and others try to combine them, all to achieve high user engagement. Let’s have a closer look at the existing types of sports apps, to enable you to choose your niche and the way you could benefit from your future app.

Dedicated and aggregator apps

These apps are pretty similar to each other, though there’s one essential difference between them: dedicated apps, like the official FC Barcelona app, shed light on one team only. Aggregator apps, like Fox Sports, provide content about multiple teams or even multiple sports. 

Users like these apps because they can get quality audio and video content, communicate with sports stars and other fans, and buy tickets, season passes, and merchandise.

Videos screen in the FC Barcelona app

If you decide to get more sports fans through a dedicated or aggregator app, you’ll have to think of:

  • enabling cloud services to store vast amounts of sports content (otherwise, you’ll spend a fortune on servers)

  • encrypting your content so competitors can’t steal it

  • providing a real-time chat for communicating with fans

  • integrating a payment gateway to let users comfortably make purchases in your app

  • using push notifications to tell users about new content, tickets, or merchandise

If you’d like to attract tech-savvy users to your sports app, consider providing VR and 360-degree content. Check out the apps by the San Jose Sharks and San Francisco 49ers that already allow fans to watch VR and 360-degree videos of games and training.

Also, remember that sports content can be violent (for example, boxing and MMA fights); therefore, you might have to restrict access depending on the user’s age. The FC Barcelona app, for instance, verifies a user’s age and doesn’t allow users under 16 to view videos without the consent of their guardians.

Live streaming apps

For attracting more fans, especially millennials, who love watching live matches but don’t like going out so much, you can build a sports video streaming app like the ones by Fox and BBC. Aside from live broadcasts, users appreciate these apps for personalized content based on location and preferences. 

Another option for live broadcasting is through a sports radio app that supplies users with live game coverage and podcasts. The main feature, in this case, will be audio streaming like in the NBC Sports Radio app.

No matter if it’s a video or audio streaming, live sports apps try to get more users with the help of exclusive live broadcasts and content that can’t be found in dedicated or aggregator apps. This is why live sports apps are often big media rights owners and look for new opportunities to buy one-of-a-kind content.

Apps that provide score updates

Some fans want to stay updated on sports insights but don’t have time for listening to audios, watching videos, or reading long blog posts. Sports score apps were built to attract this target audience, providing live scores and game statistics, and notifying users of schedules. If you choose to develop a similar app, your biggest pains will be creating a custom tool to aggregate and visualize game statistics, implementing a calendar for game schedules, and sending push notifications for news and schedule reminders.

On the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, there are many score and stats apps like Basketball NBA Live Scores, Stats & Schedules, and NBC Sports Scores. 

Apps for making bets

A lot of sports are about competition and excitement, which is why there are plenty of gamblers among sports fans. In the UK, 38.7% of people aged 18 to 54 bet £10 to £100 online each month. So if you aim at attracting gamblers to your sports business, consider creating a betting app like Betfair or Bet365. Other than integrating a payment gateway for betting and withdrawing money, you’ll have to provide:

  • match statistics with live updates and push notifications

  • search by contest format and entry fees

  • betting with real money and/or in-app currency

  • user betting statistics with information on bets, earnings, and betting history

As betting apps involve money, you and your app will need a gambling license and should provide an age verification mechanism to secure your business from potential legal claims, getting 

Apps for fantasy sports

First, let’s explain what fantasy sports are. Fantasy sports apps are online games in which fans create virtual teams of real-life pros and make them compete in virtual championships and leagues. Fantasy sports apps are perfect for engaging online gamers, but they’re also good at attracting gamblers, as such apps often allow betting on results. 

There are tons of fantasy sports apps on the market that either focus on a single type of sports, like Yahoo Fantasy Sports, or deal with multiple sports, like CBS Sports Fantasy. As with sports betting apps, you’ll have to provide match and user betting statistics, betting functionality, and payment integrations.

Player choice in the Yahoo Fantasy Sports app

However, the most challenging features in such apps will be providing players for teams, generating competitions, and supplying competition results based on real-time statistics aggregated and processed by artificial intelligence. Is it worth the hassle? Well, you decide: in 2018, 9.73% of US respondents aged 18 to 29 said they engaged in fantasy sports in the last month, and in March 2018 gross revenue from fantasy sports is forecasted to hit $33199.64 million by 2025.

Anything else to improve engagement?

After you’ve chosen your niche and created a sports app for your business, think about the latest trend in sports: fan-controlled competitions. For example, in Formula E racing, fans can vote on social media for a particular driver to get more points, which has already helped Formula E attract a younger audience of fans between 13 and 17. The American football league has gone further, letting football lovers vote and determine team tactics directly from the FCFL (Fan-Controlled Football League) app. This fanboosting became so viral that Twitch decided to buy the rights to fan-controlled football games for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.  

As you can see, the future of the sports industry is all about blending in with revolutionizing software solutions. That's why the sports industry needs mobile apps and you have to keep up with the latest trends in pursuit of high revenue and engagement. The bad news is that you can get dizzy with all the types of software and their features when thinking about how to make a sports app. But the good news is that we’re keen on sports apps development and we're always here to help you build a sports-related app for your business.

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