Apps search for second-screen users

June, 26, 2012
6/26/12
1:30
PM ET
When I’m watching sports at home, there’s almost always another screen -- usually my phone, but sometimes an iPad or laptop -- between my face and the TV. This is how most humans act, with many studies suggesting about half of people utilize a second screen while watching sports on TV.

On this second screen, I’m usually browsing the web, following Twitter, checking out box scores of games and reading random articles.

And with a mix of these resources currently occupying sports’ fans attention while watching games -- Facebook and Twitter for digital socializing, ESPN and league sites for following games -- programmers and entrepreneurs are trying to encompass the entire sports-watching experience into one app.

It’s a crowded market, with handfuls of apps trying to rise above and become fans’ go-to destination when they’re on their iPhone, iPad or Android while sitting on the couch during games.

We ran through a few of them last month, and today we’re going to run through a couple more. As before, these are specific apps in which users are actively engaged with professional sports games, whether it’s predicting, gambling with credits or interacting with other fans. This roundup doesn’t include established news or scores apps that provide news (such as ESPN’s ScoreCenter or Yahoo’s Sportacular), already-popular mobile fantasy games (like ESPN’s Streak for the Cash, MLB’s Beat the Streak or any traditional fantasy game) or the current king of second-screen sports watching (Twitter).

Sportstream (iPad only)

Funded by Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, this app tries to blend Twitter and updated stats so you don’t have to visit two different places while watching a game. Sportstream possesses a clean, logical interface that makes it easy to view messages, update your status and bounce from game to game. There’s a tab that opens an expanded box score for each game, which is a nice touch -- if I could suggest one improvement, it’d be to make the box score interactive so I can, for example, view Brian Roberts’ batting average for the season when I see he’s 3-for-4 on the night. There’s potential in this, especially on heavy nights of MLB and NBA when people want to bounce around between several different games.

PlayUp (iOS and Android)

This one’s basically a sports chat room service, as you pick a game you’d like to chat about and join a room to talk with fans about that specific game. As Dennis Lee, PlayUp’s CEO and former consultant for Zynga, says, “We filter out all that noise” you get on Twitter and Facebook. It’s big overseas but has yet to really catch on in the United States, and the app’s developers are trying to change that by running promotions like they did during the NBA Finals, when Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings went into the app and chatted with fans. I used PlayUp during Game 2 of the NBA Finals. The room with Jennings had more than 700 users, and that number probably grew. The other rooms, however, didn’t exceed ten people, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing -- too many people in a chat room can make it hard to follow.

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