Garin Online

Case 3: NFL Mobile Debuts

April 15, 2010
1 Comment

April 22nd. A date unrecognized by many, but widely regarded as a holiday in the NFL Community. Yes. I am talking about the NFL Draft. A day of fiestas and cheer, of suspense and regret.

This is not just another NFL draft, but the 75th NFL Draft ever. And we all know how we like to quantify importance by 25s. And with the premier of this event, Verizon has teamed up with the NFL to create the NFL Mobile App. This app will contain free news and information and will be optimized for select smartphones and multimedia devices including the Motorola Droid, BlackBerry Storm and Storm2, HTC Droid Eris and Samsung Rogue (notice the lack of iPhone, as iPhone is carried exclusively by AT&T). This mobile app will feature in-depth profiles of current NFL players and draft prospects, team updates, mock drafts, expert analysis and related content. The NFL Mobile app also includes NFL Network content, highlighted by live coverage of the 2010 NFL Draft. Once the regular season begins the app will also feature live simulcast of Thursday Night and Monday Night games.

This is going to be the official NFL app for those who have Verizon smart phones. NFL Mobile, which will remain free for download through the end of 2010, represents the first major NFL mobile app from Verizon since the carrier agreed to a four-year sponsorship with the NFL to be the league’s one and only mobile media partner. They are taking over for sprint as the mobile partner of the NFL. It is of course aimed at football fans everywhere, as it does not cater to other sports.

Currently on the iPhone I have the ESPN Gamecenter app, which is a great mobile app that lets me see scores and stats for any game in any sport, and it is free because it runs on an advertising model. However, the app is also very limited. What the NFL Mobile app does that ESPN cannot is not only give in-depth news, but also stream live games. I would be willing to pay for a premium app if it would let me watch games live via wi-fi. There are so many hotspots in cities that that becomes a great commodity. So with NFL Mobile taking advantage of that, it is a great platform for the NFL to push its brand. This deal is estimated at $720m.

I will be paying particular focus on how this app can enhance the NFL draft for the remainder of this blog entry. As I said before, the NFL Draft is a quasi-holiday for all football fans out there. Especially with the class that will be entering the NFL this year, NFL fans like to pay close attention. And it is no accident that this app was released around a week before the draft will happen. That is the NFL equivalent of releasing the romantic comedy “Valentines Day” on Valentines Day. You will generate far more buzz and downloads then you would if released at any other time. A Verizon executive had this to say.

Among the programming that will be available for the first time during the regular season will be the wildly popular NFL RedZone channel from the NFL Network, which airs live look-ins of every key play and touchdown from Sunday afternoon games.  Fans also will be able to watch live streaming of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.  In addition, fans will receive the NFL Network channel, which airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day on a year-round basis, and is the only network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football.

“This is an agreement that has, at its core a mutual desire by both the NFL and Verizon Wireless to provide consumers with what they want on and off the field,” said John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless.  “For Verizon Wireless, it is NFL content delivered over our 3G network so football fans can extend the excitement of the sport long after the last touchdown of a season.  And the NFL content is customizable in that consumers have options from video to ringtones to alerts; the choice is theirs.”

This app makes the NFL experience far more customizable and programmable into each NFL fans lives. You can believe me when I say that I am very upset this is not being offered to the iPhone, as football is my favorite sport and I am a diehard Patriots fan. Not owning cable, I have to scramble every week to find different ways to watch my football games. But with the entrance of this device, it gives football fans options to watch their games, as well as an advanced mobile system to find scores, stats and highlights.

The next step to improving the NFLs standing with tech and mobile users is to utilize the iPad to create an NFL application where you can view all NFL games on the device. I don’t know what people would be willing to pay, but I would easily willing to pay decent money to be able to view all NFL games on a rich media device such as the iPad. For complete viewing, the options for smartphones are a little limited, as you only have a 2″-3″ screen. But with the 9,7″ screen of the iPad, the NFL could have a lot of fun in creating a beautiful looking and great producing app.

What the NFL does have with the iPad as far as branded apps go is the NFL 2010 game. Here is an instructional video.

With the NFL looking to expand into the mobile market, NFL Mobile for Verizon is a great start. It has stats, live games and highlights. This should strike well with the NFLs core demographic, 18-34 year old men. I can just hope that NFL gives Apple users something to look forward to, whether a free app or a paid service. I look forward to the day when me and my fictional iPad can comfortably sit back in a chair and watch some football…Those will be the days.


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