Game of Phones: Is Mobile Poised to Assume the Iron Throne in the Sports Empire?

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In the last year or two, it has become progressively more apparent that there surely is a battle occurring in the social mobile universe for the attention of sports fans.

No-one could argue that just how viewers consume sports and entertainment is evolving. Remember watching NBA games before HD? Or what it had been like to be with out a smartphone during college football Saturday? Remember when Twitter was a terrific way to read 140 character posts about live events when you watched them on TV?

I’ve always hated the word "second screen," and I believe that by August 2016, it must be officially retired. As Facebook, Twitter, Verizon/Yahoo and many more enter the already crowded ring of social mobile broadcasters, the stakes are receiving higher and higher, and the fight for engagement is certainly going far beyond just viewership.

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During July 2016, we witnessed two of the best TV rating events on record. Game of Thrones cemented itself among the most popular shows ever, and the NBA Finals taken in its highest ratings since 1989. A lot more interesting was the eclipse of previous mobile engagement records — Game of Thrones totaled 2.5 million streams on its streaming platforms (HBO Now and HBO Go), up 70 percent over last season, and game seven attracted 96.2 million minutes streamed or 1.8 million unique viewers to the WatchESPN app, the best ever for a non-World Cup event. It really is no more a question if fans are likely to slice the cord — the brand new question is what screen are they likely to watch on, and what logo and user experience will be on that screen if they do.

Every branch of the entertainment industry, sports specifically, is looking for a method to establish itself as the king of mobile. So let’s play the overall game of Phones.

The Lannisters inside our game will be the big broadcast networks. NBC, FOX, CBS and others experienced to do bit more than bid sufficient to win exclusive rights to broadcast with hopes to have the ability to sell enough in ads to create it back to the black. Too little innovation on the mobile side of the marketplace has resulted in a falling out in clumps with fans — the drawbridge is down and the attack is via all sides.

A couple of years ago it seemed Yahoo, AOL or BAM may likely dominate as the major players in the sports broadcast market. Yahoo Sports was thriving and Verizon/AOL was the marriage had a need to unify against the incumbent broadcasters. Just as the Starks fell on a down economy, so did the heirs to the mobile social throne. While Verizon launched GO and spent lots of money buying content and Yahoo bought a whole lot of companies (one of these was mine) and spent lots of money streaming NFL games from Europe, neither has cemented their mobile position as heir to the throne.

This wouldn’t be considered a proper breakdown if we didn’t add a proclamation that winter is coming — and believe me, it really is. Facebook and Twitter are scrambling like White Walkers because they buy up content and build out social broadcast infrastructure. Facebook recently signed handles nearly 140 media companies and paid celebrities a reported $50 million to create videos for Facebook Reside in an effort to play to mobile fan engagement. Twitter has been live streaming events left and right which range from political conventions to Wimbledon because it was announced they paid the most for the rights to stream NFL Thursday Night Football.

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If GOT has taught us anything, it’s don’t count out the underdogs. Yahoo, AOL and other billion-dollar startups have created hope amongst those not yet as well-healed. The houses Targaryen, Baratheon, Greyjoy and Tyrell of our game contain startup platforms such as for example GameOn, a mobile engagement platform for sports fans, SportsYapper, Slyce and Sportle — all taking shape as new houses playing the field with a solid claim to the Iron Throne. It appears imminent a changing of the guard is coming. There is going to be partnerships, marriages and wars prior to the throne is taken — and it could even change hands often before a fresh house’s reign settles.

Forecasting ahead and trying to predict the way the game will play out, it could help look at a few success stories. Bill Simmons, the former “Boston Sports Guy” who once wrote columns for AOL, became probably the most sought-after media personalities after a 14-year career at ESPN. While there, he hosted a podcast, founded spinoff site, appeared on NBA Countdown and conceived the thought of 30 for 30. Now he finds himself again at the helm of his website,, which mixes sports, pop culture and technology. He also offers his own show on HBO. His success is based on his adaptivity: he brings great content to his audience, where they need it.

Recent years also have marked a shift in athletes’ engagement with fans. Talking on-field and at press conferences remains constant, however the emergence of the athlete as primary contributor shines in the near-universal embrace of social and the success of media platforms including the Players Tribune and GameOn. Connecting fans with a common athletes drives engagement and helps grow the industry while providing fans with at-their-fingertips entertainment. Not absolutely all fans makes it to the stadium, and just as Bill Simmons has found success in meeting his fans where they would like to be met, so have a number of the smarter athletes that are centered on building long careers for themselves.

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Next year, streaming numbers are predicted to go up once more, and with major leagues including the NFL teaming up with social media platforms such as for example Twitter, and the emergence of esports and the abundance of partnerships already being struck by Turner, Riot, etc., the overall game of Phones is defined to maintain full swing. Next couple of years, mobile platforms are poised to take the Iron Throne and be the principal screen for sports and television fans alike. Mobile apps rich with chat platforms and bots will be the one-stop-shop that TV never could possibly be, allowing fans to take news, scores and any other information all while communicating with their friends during live sports.

Entrepreneurs may take benefit of this by expanding their mobile presence in the highly competitive Game of Phones. The only question remaining is: What exactly are other media platforms ready to do to keep their stay at The Red Kee

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