These apps enhance TV sports watching

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
11:00
AM ET
LeBron James
AP Photo/Evan VucciLeBron James uses his phone to enhance his live sports experience at a Dallas Cowboys game.
Last week, we ran a story about the social gaming app GrabFan and how the market for live, social apps to complement TV sports watching is still developing. This led to some readers wondering what else is out there and, at the same time, several mobile developers contacting us with information about their product.

So, here are a few more iPhone apps to keep your eyes and fingers busy while sitting on your couch watching the game.

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).

All of these apps are free and only available on iOS at this time.

FanCake

FanCake is a game that rewards users not only for following along while watching sports but, more importantly, paying attention while watching. You check into a sports game and make predictions -- like if Blake Griffin will make two, one or zero free throws on a trip to the line – and receive credits if you guess correctly. And when something notable happens, such as a home run or a touchdown, a coin flashes on the screen and the first users to tap the screen get the bonus credits.

If it sounds high maintenance, well, it is – but FanCake’s creators are confident people will enjoy the game and pursue the rather impressive rewards.

FanCake announced its rewards program Tuesday morning, and it includes partnerships with entities like Fanatics.com and Oracle Arena & O.co Coliseum in Oakland, with more expected to be added soon. Rewards are delivered through gift cards and online coupon codes, which users can use toward tickets, merchandise and more. “Sports fans already enjoy following sports and watching them on TV,” says Carlos Diaz, CEO of the game’s developer, Kwarter. “Now, with FanCake, we’re rewarding them for doing that.”

For a video of the app in action, click here.
NHL Preplay

The first-of-its-kind to be introduced by a major professional sports league, NHL PrePlay allows users to predict outcomes such who will win a face-off or kill a penalty during the NHL playoff games. It’s an interesting experiment by the NHL to go after second-screen users itself, and because the app creator controls the TV product, there’s potential for interactivity between the two screens (listing the PrePlay leaders on game broadcasts, for instance), although that’s not included in this version of the game.

While this exercise might get old if you’re doing it night after night, it’s a fun, easy thing to do and unlike some prediction apps, you don’t need to be an expert on the sport to participate.

“Connect” games

OneUp games has released interactive apps for three sports – football, basketball and soccer – that put a unique twist on the live prediction method. Users are given a gameboard, sort of like a Bingo board, and each spot is filled with a different event that could occur during the sports game on TV. You can choose what events go where on your board, and you can adjust your tiles during games to better control your board. The type of events that you can choose range from a Dwight Howard offensive rebound to a Wayne Rooney goal to a Andre Johnson reception. Some are easy – some, not so much.

There are also some interactive elements, like “weapons” you can use against your friends to make their board more difficult. It’s an interesting concept, and I like an app that makes you root for a specific action such as a George Hill three-pointer.

CoverItLive

CoverItLive is an established live-blogging and chat room program – ESPN already uses CIL for Daily Dime Live during NBA games -- and as second-screen behavior comes increasingly commonplace, this app could become more and more popular in mobile usage. CIL allows users, and more-ordinarily media companies, to set up chat rooms about specific events. Many NBA teams use CIL during games, for instance, and it allows fans of one team to congregate and interact with each other as their team plays.

It’s essentially Twitter but more focused, and it’s cool when a CIL window features input from reporters at a game and fans with intelligent comments. There’s potential here for CIL to grow.

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