Spark Blog Notes from the Spark Team

March 15, 2012

March Madness Gone Mobile

Perhaps you haven’t heard, but there’s a little event going on right now called the NCAA basketball tournament. March Madness will determine the national champion of college hoops…and will consume many people's lives for the next three weeks.

Every year there are reports in the media about how the tournament leads to a massive loss in worker productivity.  And lists of best excuses to miss work make their rounds. (“Mysteriously,” the number of vasectomy appointments goes up during this time of year).

But 2012 might be the year fans can save their sick days and creative alibis. Thanks to mobile technologies, fans can watch the games just about anywhere…even at work. Both Google play and iTunes are offering apps that allow smartphone users to stream all 67 games.

Before you scoff at watching these big games on a small screen, or go into a diatribe about buffering and progress bars, keep in mind that today’s faster wireless networks, supported by LTE or HSPA+, have greatly reduced those annoyances.  Plus, today’s smartphones boast features such as four to five-inch HD screens and built-in social media apps, which are handy for talking smack with your office pool rivals.

TV sports juggernaut ESPN is embracing the trend.  The media company used to force its traditional programming into mobile. Now it’s the opposite, says a story by Online Media Daily. ESPN’s audience across its mobile properties has surpassed 20 million, with users spending 45% more time with mobile content in 2011 than 2010, the article says. ESPN Mobile now ranks as the company’s fourth-largest network, with 150,000 active users at any time.

Carriers are getting in on the action too.  Check out these commercials promoting streaming sports on high-speed networks from AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

 (H/T to NPR)

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