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June 20 2011

Wimbledon 2011: Where to Follow the Action Online

As Wimbledon 2011 prepares for an active couple of weeks, we’re serving up the best places to watch and follow the tournament online.

Plug into live video and radio streaming, access matches via iPad, iPhone and Android apps and follow play-by-play feeds of the tournament on Twitter and Facebook from now until the finals on July 3.


1. Radio, Live Blog





Follow the schedule of play on the official site, which also offers a live blog and a fantastic radio feed (for subtle workplace listening).


2. ESPN3 Online




ESPN3 offers free live video streaming with certain Internet service providers. Be ready to sign in with or create a username. The site supports major providers like Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon, among many others.


3. Apps




You may also choose to watch ESPN3 coverage via iPad, iPhone or Android apps.


4. NBC Online




NBC will begin live streaming the tournament on June 25 through the finals on July 3. Until then it will feature tournament-related video content on its site.


5. Twitter




Twitter users can the follow the official @Wimbledon feed. It has constant updates on matches, news and scores.


6. Facebook




Wimbledon on Facebook provides fewer updates but uploads awesome photo and video content.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, darklord_71

More About: apps, how to, livestream, social media, sports, tennis, video, watch, wimbledon, wimbledon 2011

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June 12 2011

Full-Court Press: How The NBA Scores With Digital Media


While there’s no winner yet between the Heat and Mavericks, there’s already one W in the can: The NBA’s big win with digital.

The NBA is now in its third season of working with Turner Sports to jointly manage the league’s NBA Digital properties, including NBA TV, NBA.com and NBA Mobile, and growth has been strong. This year, the NBA finals will be watched by fans on television, online or mobile devices in more than 215 countries.

Mashable spoke with Bryan Perez, senior vice president and general manager of NBA Digital, about the league’s multi-faceted approach to dominating its most challenging opponent: evolving technology.


NBA Game Time Application


One of the league’s biggest initiatives was extending NBA Game Time, its free mobile app. The app is available on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, in addition to connected device platforms such as Apple TV, Google TV, LG NetCast, Panasonic Viera Connect, Roku, Samsung Apps and Vizio Internet Apps, making it one of the most far-reaching sports applications. This season, there have been 2.5 million Game Time app downloads for mobile; more than 681,000 of those were downloaded since the start of the playoffs. Last season, there were one million app downloads.

The quick growth is especially impressive when you consider the technical difficulties of bringing hoops into the living room via connected devices. Basketball games move so quickly and change so much — with so many cameras moving and panning — that it’s more difficult to render than other sports.

“We learned a lot about the challenges of delivering video into the living room,” says Perez. “We’ve advanced our knowledge and expertise on that and seen good pickup from the consumer side.”

For the playoffs, the NBA upped the ante and unveiled NBA Game Time on Microsoft Windows Phone, which provided fans with yet another way to access scores, stats and video highlights for the Mavericks-Heat series.


NBA.com


This season, NBA.com set all-time records for page views and videos — more than 2.5 billion videos were streamed by fans worldwide.

“It’s a pretty enormous number that puts us in the upper echelon of all publishers globally, outside of your YouTubes and Hulus,” says Perez, adding that this was the second year in a row in which the site’s online video views were doubled. “It’s a reflection of the emphasis we’ve placed on video and the video experience on NBA.com.”

NBA.com serves up diverse content, much of which is syndicated from the pre- and post-game shows and original programming on NBA TV, NBA TV. Launched in 1999, NBA TV was the first league-owned cable channel, and it’s proof that NBA has long invested in mass media platforms to provide 24/7 content to fans. The site is well integrated with the league’s social media channels, and it saw an average of 8 million unique views per day, up 78% from 2010. Half of the site’s traffic is international.

During the finals, NBA.com hosted “Mini-Movies presented by Kia,” five-minute webisodes that provide exclusive footage of the Mavs and Heat as they duke it out for the championship. The webisodes go live on NBA.com after each game in the series.


NBA TV


Proof that NBA’s savvy isn’t new: NBA TV was the first league-owned cable channel, and it’s been around since 1999. Now the 24-hour network is in more than 55 million American homes and more than 60 countries.

During the Finals, NBA TV is featuring more than 40 hours of live coverage, including pre- and post-game shows, and most of the content is found on the NBA TV website.


NBA Social Media


“We’ve always had a reputation for being aggressive and being first with new technologies,” says Perez. He credits that with the NBA’s primary demographic, both on the court and in the stands — men aged 18 to 34 who are tech-savvy early adopters and social networkers. The NBA goes to where that strong audience is engaging. “We over-index over every other [sports] league in terms of people who fall in that category, so this is really just a reflection of us understanding our audience and building products that suit their needs as much as it is an operating philosophy for us.” The bottom line, he says, is that fans should be able to access the information they want any time, anywhere.

During the season — and especially during the playoffs, the NBA used social media to drive traffic to NBA.com and its video content, to answer fan questions, and of course, to encourage people to watch the game on whichever platform they use. And of course the players have their own presence on social media platforms.

Perez says players showed little resistance to social media and are excited to engage with their fans — 250 NBA players have Twitter accounts and 75 have a Facebook Page. Overall, the official NBA, team, and player pages have accumulated nearly 120 million followers and fans combined across Twitter and Facebook. At the start of the season, there were 63 million fans across these platforms.

Perez says that year-over-year growth on social media is in the 30 to 40% range, so the buzz is definitely still growing.

The NBA likes to keep it fresh, and one new initiative is the “Social MVP” on Playoff Pulse, a take on Twitter’s Trending Topics. The Social MVP is an integration within Facebook, and the player who’s generating the most activity on Facebook at any given time, based on mentions. When this post was published, LeBron James was king of the Pulse. Once you click on a player, you are presented with a fresh page that aggregates content on that player from NBA.com. You don’t just know what’s hot, you know why it’s hot, says Perez.


The Next Play


As the league establishes a three-year plan, Perez says the major plays will take place within the digital ventures, focusing on growth, innovation and multiplatform distribution opportunities. Perez credits this year’s success to the NBA’s inherent affinity toward innovation, but he also says there’s a “rising tide of overall interest” in the NBA.

“People are more interested and we’re able to deliver to them in more ways than ever before,” says Perez. He looks forward to strong growth numbers next year as both the league’s investment in digital and fan interest in the sport continue to grow.

More About: apps, Bryan Perez, digital media, Heat, Mavericks, Mavs, NBA, nba game time

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April 09 2011

8 Mobile Apps for Golf Season

golf image

The pro golf season has kicked off with the heralded Masters Tournament in Augusta. Golf enthusiasts can rejoice in another season of watching the best players drive, chip, pitch and putt their way to victory.

Golfing is one of those addictive yet highly frustrating sports that can leave you feeling like a PGA pro one day and a novice the next. In golf, practice sometimes makes perfect, but any round can have a mind of its own regardless of how many hours you’ve put into the range. If anything though, true golfers are dedicated to the craft and will doggedly continue on their quest for the perfect swing.

These eight mobile apps might not get you to the Masters, but they may at least make you feel like you’re worthy of playing at Augusta.
FORE!


1. Golf Genie Practice Drills PRO


golf genie image

This app acts like your virtual golf instructor and provides a whole slew of practice drills for your full swing and short game. Designed by PGA Tour pros, it also provides specific solutions and drills to address common swing faults like hooking, pulling, pushing and slicing. You can use the customization features to pick and choose which drills you’d like to focus on and then create your own personalized practice routine. It’s also available for BlackBerry phones.

Cost: $0.99 (on sale for a limited time from $2.99)


2. U.S. Golf Courses


us golf courses image

U.S. Golf Courses is a basic but useful app that provides a directory of major courses in every state in the country. More than 13,500 courses are listed. In addition to a breakout by state, this app also provides information on each, such as grass/bunker information, contact details, facilities available, food options and more. You can also use the GPS function on the app to search for the nearest course.

Cost: $0.99


3. Golfshot: Golf GPS


golfshot image

Knowing the layout of the course and each hole is essential for every golfer’s game. With a GPS-enabled app like Golfshot, which tracks more than 35,000 courses worldwide, you have immediate access to aerial views, distances to the hole from any spot and exact placement of the pin for better accuracy. The app comes with a handicap calculator, and once stroke information is inputted, it automatically creates statistical graphs that map your performance and makes it easy to track for improvement on future rounds. Yes, it’s a hefty price tag, but it’s cheaper than a single round of golf and will certainly put you on the right track to better play. It’s also available for Android phones.

Cost: $29.99


4. Golf’s Greatest Destinations


gold destinations image

If you’re looking for golf course recommendations, Golf’s Greatest Destinations is a handy resource. The app lets you search beautiful destinations and also provides categories such as Best for Buddy Trips, Best for Low Handicappers, Best Desert Courses, Best for Golf & Beach and much more. Information on each course is provided, as are accompanying photos.

Cost: $2.99


5. V1 Golf


v1 golf image

There’s a reason why golfing instructors always incorporate video into lessons -– it’s the only way to show you those pesky mistakes in your swing. VIdeo is an important learning tool, which is why V1 Golf incorporates it so prominently. This app not only lets you analyze your own swing, but also lets you compare swings from pros and figure out what adjustments you need to make to stop hooking your drives. You can draw planes on the video screen to see how straight your line is, do split-screens to compare swings and watch in slow motion to see every single movement. It’s also available on Android phones.

Cost: $3.99 (on sale for a limited time from $9.99)


6. The Rules of Golf


golf rules image

There are lots and lots of rules in golf, and there will be a time — if there hasn’t been already — when you’re playing with someone who is ALL about the rules. In those instances, it’s helpful to have a definitive guide to golf. There’s no better authority than the USGA Rules of Golf app. It gets into the nitty gritty of golf so that the next time you’re playing with a stickler who raises a stink about how you re-dropped a dropped ball without penalty because it landed on the putting green, you can whip out Rule 20-2 and prove him wrong. It’s also available for Android phones.

Cost: $3.99


7. Golf Digest Tips Plus


golf digest image

Golf Digest is one of the premier golf magazines. It makes sense that it would have a premier app as well. Tips Plus covers everything from swing mechanics, putting, short game, strategy and golf exercises and also features commentary from the best coaches like Hank Haney, David Leadbetter and Jim Flick. There are accompanying videos for the tips (which unfortunately didn’t work for me), but also text that details helpful advice every golfer should know.

Cost: FREE


8. Golf Channel Mobile


golf channel image

To keep up to speed on the latest news and updates from the world of golf, the Golf Channel Mobile app is a good one to have. It provides breaking news, up-to-the-minute tournament scoreboards, player profiles and clips from recent Golf Channel shows. There are also clips of instructional videos from popular shows such as The Golf Fix and The Daily Brew. It’s also available for Android phones.

Cost: FREE


Interested in more Mobile resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

Image courtesy of Flickr, turbotoddi

More About: android, App, Golf, iphone, Mobile 2.0, mobile apps, smartphone, social media

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December 17 2010

Sports and Social Media: Why the Best Is Yet to Come

fan image

Jim DeLorenzo is vice president of Octagon Digital, the standalone digital unit of the world’s largest sports marketing firm, Octagon, Inc., which represents more than 800 athletes worldwide and advises startups focused on the sports industry. He is also the founder of Twackle.com, a Twitter-based news aggregation service focused on the sports vertical.

One of the truly great aspects of sports fandom is that it is inherently social. It’s just no fun cheering by yourself. Fans want to be around other like-minded fans, regardless of whether that occurs at the actual sporting event, at the local sports bar, or during viewing parties held at our homes in front of a TV.

You would think that there would be no shortage of compelling, cutting-edge startups focused on the sports vertical. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. Certainly there are some companies with the right combination of a compelling user experience and robust technology platform, but the unfortunate truth is that the sports startup space is littered with retread concepts that have little chance of succeeding.

Read on for why that is the case, how it might change, and some great examples of websites that are doing it right.


Pro Sports Content is Heavily Protected


Sports content rights holders are vigilant about protecting their content and are not apt to look kindly on any startup that attempts to circumvent the content owner’s intellectual property. This is similar to the music industry’s problem, and yet entrepreneurs continue to push ahead with music startups aimed at fundamentally altering the way we consume music.

A more likely reason for the hesitation is that startups are often so focused on the prospect of working with professional athletes (and, admittedly, it is a seductive thought) that their success ends up hinging on buy-in from a significant number of those athletes. For example, in my job at Octagon, I’m approached regularly by startups looking to work with our athletes or for assistance in navigating the sports business community maze and gaining access to leagues, teams or major online sports portals.


There’s Not Enough Value for Pro Athletes


To be sure, a number of professional athletes (Chad Ochocinco comes to mind) have done a great job of using existing social media tools to their advantage and, in some circumstances, creating additional revenue streams. Even Twitter gained a boost from athletes like Shaquille O’Neal hopping on the service during its early days. Embracing social media is increasingly becoming part of the athlete marketing playbook.

At the end of the day, however, most professional athletes are too busy with their day jobs to focus on a digital strategy that likely won’t yield a return on their investment anywhere near the revenue they generate from their player contract or endorsements.

Non-team sport athletes that are more reliant on endorsement dollars are the notable exception here, but even they have difficulty monetizing a digital platform. As a result, these athlete-focused startups often find it difficult to either sign up athletes for their service or, if they do, are then effectively monetizing an athlete’s participation to a level where the athlete deems it worthwhile to continue the partnership long term.


The Real Opportunities


Looking at companies that are finding success in the sports vertical, one common theme emerges: They all utilize community and tech-driven platforms that complement — not threaten — rights holders’ assets. As a result, they are largely viewed by leagues, teams, etc. as partners that should be embraced, helping to pave the way for their success. Perhaps most importantly, none of their success hinges on athlete participation.

Fans have proven time and again that they want to immerse themselves in every possible way in the sports they love. Now the digital world has allowed fans direct access to not only athletes but, more importantly, other fans in a completely new way. It’s a vast new space with incredibly high potential for consumption, and it’s this space on which sports startups would be smart to capitalize.


Sports Startups That Get It


Below are four companies that I think approach the sports industry the right way. The success of these startups is a hopeful sign that we will see even more companies adopting this approach. It’s an exciting thought from the perspective of both an advisor to these companies and as a sports fan.

SeatGeek: Going to a game with like-minded fans is the purest form of sports community. That’s where SeatGeek comes in. Using an algorithmic, data-driven approach, SeatGeek takes ticket aggregation to the next level by providing a ticket price forecast functionality (think Farecast for sports and music events). Certainly there are many pieces that make up what is considered a “successful” sports franchise, but a packed house on game night definitely is one of them.

Fanvibe: If 2010 was the year that location-based services began creeping into the mainstream consciousness, then 2011 is going to be when that trend really hits the sports world, with Fanvibe leading the charge. The Fanvibe sports-focused, location-based application allows fans to create on-the-fly communities around specific games and events through its check-in based platform. The NBA, one of the more forward-thinking leagues in terms of utilizing digital platforms, already has integrated the Fanvibe’s technology into the NBA’s mobile application with “Turnstile” branded functionality.

SB Nation: While on its surface a sports blog network, and thus a content play, SB Nation has a sophisticated publishing and comment platform. As a result, any of the SB Nation blogs for individual pro and college teams are the leading online home for that team’s fans. This has not gone unnoticed by professional leagues and teams. Both are now viewing SB Nation as a conduit for communicating directly with passionate sports fans.

Silver Chalice: Silver Chalice is a growing powerhouse in the sports world. To wit, Silver Chalice has developed a premium video advertising platform dubbed “SEASON” to deliver high-quality sports video highlights served alongside contextually relevant articles from SEASON’s publishing partners. In other words, SEASON’s technology platform enables a user reading an article about last night’s game to see an advertising-supported video highlight of that same game next to the article, providing a compelling user experience while also generating revenue for rights holders and publishers.

Disclosure: The author of this post has a business relationship with SBNation.


More Sports Resources from Mashable:


- Top 10 Fantasy Football Sites to Help You Win
- How Social Media Is Changing the Super Bowl
- When Social Media Gets Athletes in Trouble
- 5 Predictions for Athletes on Social Media in 2010
- 5 Social Media Lessons the NBA Can Teach Businesses

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kycstudio

More About: social media, sports, startups, web

For more Social Media coverage:


November 04 2010

5 MP3 Players for Pumping Up Your Workouts


Whether you finish a triathlon before breakfast, speed walk around the block at lunch or do 50 laps before dinner, one thing that makes exercise so much more enjoyable is some music.

We all love listening to music to get us in the “zone,” but it can be a hassle to lug around a whole music library, or have your music player bouncing around in your pocket. If you’re looking for a new MP3 player, or an alternative to taking your expensive phone into the danger zone, we’ve got five options that are ideal for sporty types.

Have a look through our top five choices below and let us know which device you liked best — or if we’ve missed a model you love — in the comments below.


1. Sony Walkman W Series NWZ-W252


This wearable MP3 player from Sony fits neatly around the back of your neck, so there are no cables to get tangled. Lightweight and water-resistant, it’s ideal for joggers who run the risk of getting caught in the rain.

With up to 2GB capacity, it’s not the most capacious option out there, but that should be enough space for around 450 tracks; more than enough to see you through a run. File transfers are drag ‘n’ drop easy.

The W series claims to have an 11-hour battery-life, but even if you’ve forgotten to charge the device, there’s a very handy quick-charge function that will give you 90-minutes of juice from a three-minute charge — a very useful feature.

Cost: $59.95


2. Cowon iAudio E2


The stunningly good-looking iAudio E2 from Cowon proves that practical audio-on-the-go doesn’t have to be dowdy.

It gives the iPod shuffle a darn good run for it’s money with up to 4GB capacity, minimalist controls, brilliant file support, an 11-hour battery life and audio wizardry in the form of some proprietary tech to make your music sound amazing. All that tech snaps on with a metal ring that can be attached to a belt loop or your clothing with an optional extra clip.

Available in a rainbow of colors — white, black, orange red, violet, mocha brown, lilac silver, sky blue and pink — it’s the perfect audio player for people who dress up to go to the gym.

Cost: From around $50


3. Finis SwiMP3.1G


Doing endless laps can get tedious, so an investment like the SwiMP3 player might help you stay in the water longer.

Designed from the ground up specifically for swimmers, this completely waterproof player uses bone conduction technology — sending sound vibrations through the cheekbone to the inner ear — to avoid the muffled noise problems other underwater players can experience.

With 1GB storage (good for around 240 tracks), it attaches to your goggles or mask and offers basic controls. The 8-hour battery is rechargeable via USB.

Cost: $149.99


4. SanDisk Sansa Clip+


SanDisk’s Clip+ players (indicating a microSDHC memory card slot) are a popular choice in the budget MP3 marketplace.

The Clip is a great all-around player — there are no nasty file support omissions, it boasts good battery life (up to 15 hours) and performs well. At just 2.2 x 1.4 x 0.6 inches big, it’s small enough and cheap enough to throw in your gym bag and forget about.

The Clip+ is great for the gym. The clip on its back makes it easy to attach to clothes, and the small but bright display helps in navigating your song selection mid-workout. There’s even an FM tuner if you get bored of your own tunes. Though, with the capacity for around 2,000 songs on the 8GB model, you might never need it.

Cost: From $39.99 to $69.99 (but the 8GB model is currently $56.79 on Amazon.com)


5. Ryobi TEK4 AllPlay Jobsite MP3 Player


This rugged player comes from a tool manufacturer and is designed to withstand the rigors of a jobsite. Those qualities also make it ideal for extreme sports enthusiasts.

If you need an MP3 player that will not conk out if it comes into contact with dirt, water or suffers the odd drop or knock, the TEK4 is worth consideration. With all that action, its large buttons mean its also easy to control on the go.

It offers a 2GB storage capacity with file support for all common music formats. It also comes complete with a spring loaded clip as well as an armband and, best of all, boasts an impressive 72 hours of battery life per charge, which should see you through most outdoor sporting adventures.

Cost: Approximately $70


More Health and Exercise Resources from Mashable:


- 10 Essential iPhone Apps for Runners
- 8 Best Android Apps for Health and Fitness
- 5 Ways Social Media Helps Promote Good Health
- 5 Amazing Infographics For the Health Conscious
- 10 Free iPhone Apps to Help You Go Green


Reviews: Amazon.com

More About: cowon, exercise, gadgets, List, Lists, MP3 players, music, SanDisk, sony, sports, tech

For more Tech coverage:


September 01 2010

HOW TO: Follow the US Open with Social Media


It’s US Open time in New York, which means tennis fever has officially hit the city that never sleeps. As the final major tournament in professional tennis, the US Open always draws a healthy audience, nationally and abroad.

Maybe you’ve been waiting for the US Open tennis tournament since Wimbledon ended in July. Or maybe your roommate is obsessed with Roger Federer and won’t let you watch anything else. Either way, it’s hard to miss the excitement bubbling up around the tournament.

We’ve collected some easy, free and totally legal ways to watch and follow the US Open with these six social media tips.


1. Get to Know the Players


Read what the top contenders are saying about the tournament. Andy Murray tweets daily, nonchalantly dropping phrases like, “Just picked up the US Open Series trophy.” Venus Williams is another avid tweeter and, if nothing else, it’s entertaining to keep up with her wardrobe choices (she recently started a clothing line).

Andy Roddick, Bob Bryan, Kim Clijsters, and John Isner all have thriving Twitter feeds as well. You can find a full list of players broken into retired pros, men’s tour and women’s tour at Twitter Athletes.

Roger Federer is more of a Facebook guy. His Page has regular updates and videos, plus some great fan outreach. There’s a reason more than four million people “Like” his page: He often responds to fan-submitted questions, for example, “I can dunk a tennis ball, but not a basketball…I am going to stick to tennis,” as well as his dream championship matchups.

Rafael Nadal also prefers his Facebook Page. You might need to understand Spanish in order to read it, but you can join the 3.5 million people who “Like” it in any language. Following this >English-speaking fan on Twitter is a better way for non-Spanish speakers to keep up. Nadal fans can also check out his YouTube moments (many of them with translation) on his dipity timeline.

YouTube has also been a big hit for tracking players. Both Murray and Federer have shown a little flair on YouTube recently. Federer starred in a video where he aims a tennis ball at a bottle sitting on top of a nervous man’s head. Whether fake or not, it’s pretty fun to watch.

In the video above, Murray takes a London stroll with some tennis balls, showing off some tricks along the way.


2. Watch Free Live Streaming


US Open

If your boss is OK with it, you can watch the tournament all day long on the Internet. The official US Open site has video feeds with commentary at many of the courts. You can switch easily between courts or watch more than one court at a time. Without closing the video screen, you can also add an online fan chat and view updated stats.

ESPN3 also added selected matches to its live streaming schedule but you need to have an affiliated Internet provider in order to access the video.


3. Get Tournament Updates on Twitter


US Open Twitter

If you don’t have time to watch, but still want to follow, there a number of good Twitter sources that will keep you up to speed:

  • @USOpen: The official site’s feed mainly focuses on resources.
  • @Tennis: Tennis.com’s coverage of the US Open includes daily summaries and podcasts.
  • @ESPNTennis: Get alerted to ESPN coverage of the US Open.
  • @TennisReporters: Foxsports.com reporter Matt Cronin Tweets what he sees.
  • @gerrynyt: The editor of The New York Times Magazine, on tennis.
  • @patrickmcenroe: ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe…commenting.
  • @justingimelstob: Watch Justin Gimelstob as a commentator for the US Open on the Tennis Channel. Get to know him through his Twitter feed.
  • @jon_wertheim: Jon Wertheim literally wrote the book on some of today’s biggest tennis stars. He’s pretty good with 140-character Tweets, too.

4. Download the US Open App


US Open App

The US Open iPhone App is pretty magnificent. It allows you to check the scores of ongoing games, review the schedule, watch videos, listen to radio casts of matches, read player bios, and see Tweets from players. If you happen to actually be at the National Tennis Center, there’s an “Around Me” augmented reality feature that helps you “see through walls” to find the nearest live matches, concessions, or next train home. You can also check in on Foursquare.

If you don’t have an iPhone, sadly you’re out of luck in the app department. You can, however, visit the US Open’s mobile site or try alternatives like US Open2010 for Android.


5. Follow a Tennis Blog


If Roger Federer decides to make an amazing between-the-legs shot like this one, you don’t want to be the only person who hasn’t seen the video. Blogs are a good way to get highlights like this one and pick up some talking points from the experts. Here are a handful of favorites:


6. Pick the Winners


US Open Bracket

It’s fun to watch athletes win, but it’s more fun to win yourself. Take your picks on this lovely blank bracket from ESPN. Brackets from other Grand Slam tournaments are conveniently located on the same page so that you can make educated choices.

Vote for your top contenders to see how your picks compare to the rest of ESPN readers. If the satisfaction of demonstrating superior tennis knowledge isn’t enough, be sure to read this betting guide before you take a gamble.


More Sports Resources from Mashable:


- Top 10 Fantasy Football Sites to Help You Win
- The World Cup’s Social Media Evolution
- 5 Social Media Lessons the NBA Can Teach Businesses
- 5 Reasons Every Sports Fan Should Be On Social Media
- Jalen Rose: How Social Media Could’ve Changed My Career

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, miflippo

More About: Andy Murray, ESPN, Grand Slam, how to, List, Lists, Live Stream, roger federer, sports, Sports illustrated, tennis, twitter, US Open, Venus Williams

For more Entertainment coverage:


August 28 2010

Top 10 Fantasy Football Sites to Help You Win

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Miranda Lin recently completed an M.S. degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and now works as a freelance writer and full-time sports fan.

While the opening kickoff to the 2010 NFL season is still over 2 weeks away, die-hard fantasy fans are already hard at work crunching stats and scouting players to build their own dream team.

With an estimated 27.7 million fantasy football players around the world and thousands of sites dedicated to the game, the competition this year is fierce as ever.

Here are 10 websites that might give you the winning edge over your competition:


1. Football Guys


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Having up-to-the-minute breaking news is the life-blood of any fantasy footballer, and Football Guys’ network of writers and inside sources is one of the best in the business, producing an “avalanche of news” that will keep you ahead of the game.

Though their news, forums, podcasts, depth charts and basic draft guide are free, access to their statistical and forecasting tools costs $28.95. But for those who are serious about winning, it may be worth the investment. The premium version of their Draft Dominator app alone might justify the price tag as it uses the Value Based Drafting system they invented to customize and compare projections for every player, across all positions, for any league setting.

Also included with your subscription are custom cheatsheets, ADP lists, weighted expert projections and daily email newsletters. In fact, Football Guys are so confident in their product that they offer a money-back guarantee up until the end of Week 3 action.


2. Rotoworld


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Owned by NBC Universal, Rotoworld is one of the biggest players on the fantasy field. The speed and quality of their newswire is second only to Football Guys and their “On Demand Draft Guide” ($14.99) produces an easily printable document filled with player profiles and stat projections, ADP reports, rookie rankings, depth charts and injury reports that are updated in real-time and tailored to your league settings.

For an additional $4.99 you can also download Rotoworld’s iPhone or iPad apps so that even when you’re on the go, you’ll always have access to Rotoworld’s compendium of fantasy news and analysis.


3. The Huddle


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For $29.95, The Huddle has it all: Cheatsheets, player profiles and rankings, mock drafts, game predictions, free agent reports, start/bench advice and stat trackers. Their award-winning draft kit also includes player consistency rankings, ease of schedule updates and the especially helpful Better Than Average (BTA) ranking, which measures how well a player performs compared to everyone else in his position.

But what really sets The Huddle apart are its forums. Few other sites have such a large community of knowledgeable and enthusiastic fantasy players actively posting on its message boards.


4. Fantasy Football Sharks


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This is the only site on this list that is 100% free – and it doesn’t give up anything in quality. Its Player Projections page presents a variety of graphs, interactive statistics and feedback from other Fantasy Shark members to predict how every player will perform during the season.

The Fantasy Sharks Lineup Coach, an integrated myfantasyleague.com add-on, is another handy tool that will give you direct advice about who to start and who to sit for every matchup.


5. Fantasy Football Champs


champs image

Team and player statistics are one of the most crucial – and frustrating – parts of fantasy football. Fantasy Football Champs takes out some of the headache with its array of proprietary statistical tools. The site’s crown jewel is the FFC Performance Index, an in-season ranking and projection system that calculates which of your players will have the best outing. It is updated daily, right up to kickoff, and has been shown to predict the exact tier of each player with 70-80% accuracy.

The Champs Customizable Cheatsheet (C3) also uses proprietary algorithms to help users find sleepers and avoid busts on draft day. The draft kit is $16.95 while the full-access premium package is $29.95.


6. Football Docs


docs image

Under the slogan: “Where geeks meet the gridiron,” Football Docs is owned and operated by a group of fantasy addicts with PhDs. Apparently the Football Docs’ advanced degrees in engineering have also given them an inside track on fantasy football trends, draft tactics, lineup decision-making, and player rankings and projections.

Most of their expertise is offered for free, including their weekly, Ask the Docs write-in advice column. The only exception is the Draft Advisor software ($10.95), which creates custom rankings, tracks draft selection for up to 20 different teams and is completely updated every week.


7. CBS Sports


cbs image

Although it’s not as organized or as user-friendly as some of the other sites, it’s hard to argue with the quality of CBS Sports’ product. Its Power Projector feature offers three expert projections on every player in the league. It has downloadable draft kits, analyst mock drafts and draft video preps – for free. And according to the New York Times’ NFL blog, CBS had the most accurate rankings across all positions in 2009.


8. Pro Football Reference


reference image

Think of this as the fantasy football almanac. Mathematician/Sports fan Doug Drinen has put together a super-organized, easy-to-navigate collection of football statistics that allows users to search any aspect of a team or player’s performance throughout history and updated throughout the season.


9. Draft Sharks


draft sharks image

With a sleek-looking interface that provides custom tailored cheatsheets (called MVP Boards), weekly player rankings, newsy and gossipy articles, personalized trade advice and in-season strength of season updates, Draft Sharks believes it can “out-analyze other websites.” Unfortunately, it also out-prices other sites with its hefty $43 premium subscription fee. At least they have a 30-day money back guarantee.


10. ESPN


espn image

Last but certainly not least, the venerable grand-daddy of sports websites celebrates its 15th year on the fantasy gridiron by offering its most complete collection of fantasy tools yet. In addition to the usual news and analysis from its stable of experts, including five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award-winner Matt Berry (aka “The Talented Mr. Roto”), ESPN has begun to offer a variety of services across different media platforms. This includes mock drafts, forums and live-chats on ESPN.com, fantasy-focused podcasts, mobile alerts and TV segments, and a free mobile draft kit app that provides news and commentary for iPhone and iPod devices.

And for those who will spare no expense to win their league, try ESPN INSIDER, the $39.95/year subscription service that provides extra online tools to help draft, manage and analyze your fantasy team, including Insider Recommends and Draft Analyzer.


More sports resources from Mashable:


- How Social Media Is Changing the Super Bowl
- When Social Media Gets Athletes in Trouble
- 5 Predictions for Athletes on Social Media in 2010
- 5 Social Media Lessons the NBA Can Teach Businesses
- 5 Reasons Every Sports Fan Should Be On Social Media

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, spxChrome

More About: cbs, draft sharks, ESPN, fantasy football, fantasy football champs, fantasy football sharks, football, football docs, football guys, pro football reference, rotoworld, the huddle

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July 13 2010

July 09 2010

July 02 2010

June 17 2010

4 Free World Cup Apps for BlackBerry

blackberry app imageFor continuous World Cup coverage, check out Mashable’s 2010 World Cup Hub, which will be updated throughout the games.

BlackBerry fans aren’t quite as spoiled for choice as iPhone or Android owners when it comes to apps or the World Cup, but there some football-themed widgets worth a look.

Here we offer four great World Cup apps (and one bonus), available direct from the BlackBerry App World store. Check them out and stay up to date with the proceedings in South Africa. The very best part? — they are all free!


1. AP 2010 World Cup Coverage


The Associated Press’s mobile offering is actually available across all major mobile platforms, with the BlackBerry version working like a Flash-based microsite.

The app is supported by VISA (see the banner across the top?), while the homepage gives you one top news story and what it deems “recent matches.” The fact that this section includes yet-to-be-played matches (with appropriately nil-nil scores) might confuse some not familiar with South Africa’s different time zone.

With the option to customize for the team you support, as well as select your preferred language, the app offers news, photos, teams and venues.

The photos and teams sections are basic, and the “previous” and “next” navigation buttons in the gallery don’t work at all (at time of review). The venues section offers a fairly decent summary of the 10 different South African stadiums, although we can’t imagine anyone lingering for long on this option.

Where the app shines is in the news arena, with decent, lengthy, full-fat news stories from the AP on all aspects of the tournament.

Cost: Free
Best for: News


2. WC2010


WC2010 image

This colorful app offers a simple interface with a homepage, scores, stats and standings. The homepage gives you a big banner announcing the day’s matches and editorial covering all the news angles you’d expect from the tournament.

Although the score on the matches banner appears to take time to update, the news comes in fairly fast, so you may find yourself looking at a nil-nil score, while the top news story has a half-time update including goals scored.

The standings offer a nice group grid showing the various teams, rank, games played, won, drawn, lost, goals for and against, the goal difference and points.

Stats is where this app comes into its own with a table providing info on goals, yellows cards and red cards, all organized by player and team. The detailed data is there if you need it, and we know that there are those of you out there that do.

Cost: Free
Best for: Stats


3. Goal Mobile


goal mobile image

Goal Mobile from Goal.com has the most comprehensive football app here, which is a mixed blessing if you’re just a casual footie fan.

You have to hand over your email address before you can get going, but once you do you’ve got a plethora of options to chose from with a dual layer, tightly packed tab interface.

Unless you are interested in Football Leagues from around the world (there are many covered by this app), then keep yourself on the World Cup 2010 tab on the top menu. From there you can chose to browse the news, live scores, teams, match-results, group stage and knockout stage areas from another menu.

The news is varied, encompassing straight news, comment pieces, previews and reports, all with options to share on social networking site. The stories themselves are in-depth — the previews alone offer team overviews, past results, players to watch, a form guide and current team news.

The live scores section is worth a look as it makes clear which are the pre-match nil-nils, as opposed to final scores, and offers data from the day before and matches from the next day, while the teams section simply offers a list of matches (and results if they’ve been played) rather than any kind of half-hearted, haphazard bio.

However, for us this app was buggy, throwing up a ton of error messages that required some clicks to get past, sometimes multiple times in a row. It averages four stars from over 200 reviews, though, so it’s clearly hitting the right note with some BlackBerry-owning football fans.

Cost: Free
Best for: True football fans


4. ScoreMobile FC


score mobile fc image

If you’re not interested in the bells and whistles and just want cold, hard, football facts, then ScoreMobile FC is the app for you.

As with Goal Mobile, this is an app that covers a wider football gamut than just the World Cup. Make sure you select “FIFA” from the leagues menu when you first fire it up to get access to the World Cup.

Unlike all the other tab-based apps we’ve mentioned, ScoreMobile works with a drop down menu that offers scores, stats, tables and news.

Each of the options are fairly minimal from a design point of view — which we’d imagine would be good for your data bill — but present the essential facts in a clean and clear way.

The tables are particularly quick to access and easy to read while the stats only really offer useful info on goals scored.

The news here appears to be culled from AP’s stream, but presented without too many bells and whistles. If you have weak cell coverage or are counting the data pennies closely, you might prefer this to the more graphically rich AP offering.

Cost: Free
Best for: Minimalists


BONUS: South Africa on BlackBerry


south africa image

BlackBerry is pushing this app pretty hard with all manner of integration with your BB phone, such as push notifications, alerts to your inbox, the option to add games to your calendar as well as integration with BlackBerry’s “Messenger” service. Unfortunately the app is not compatible with our test handset — a BlackBerry Pearl 3G — (as this particular phone is not yet available in South Africa) so we were unable to get hands-on, but it looks like it’s worth a look if you own any other RIM-made handset. If you’ve already given it a try then let us know your impressions in the comments below.



For more mobile coverage, follow Mashable Mobile on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook




More mobile resources from Mashable:


- Why You May Not Need a Mobile App
- 10 Must-Have BlackBerry Apps for Small Business
- 5 Must-Have Free Social Apps for BlackBerry
- Top 8 iPhone Apps for Self-Help
- 27 Ways to Find Amazing New Android Apps

Tags: ap, apps, blackberry, blackberry app world, blackberry apps, football, goal mobile, Lists, scoremobile fc, soccer, South Africa, world cup, world cup 2010


June 11 2010

World Cup 2010: Mashable’s Complete Coverage

Whether you’re a soccer neophyte or seasoned veteran, Mashable has put together an essential hub for all of your 2010 World Cup needs.

Mashable will be covering the tournament with essential social media resources, news, stats and features including the best World Cup goals of all time and which team has the most passionate fans (according to Facebook).

Aside from some soccer rule refreshers and tournament details on both the group stage and knockout stage, be sure to check back to this post for recent match scores and all of Mashable’s 2010 World Cup coverage. We’ll be updating this post continuously throughout the tournament with links to our World Cup social media coverage.


Recent Scores



Coverage on Mashable


- 5 Free Must-Have World Cup Android Apps

- HOW TO: Follow the 2010 World Cup on Twitter

- 3 Ways to Watch the 2010 World Cup

- Top 6 Free World Cup iPhone Apps

- 10 Best World Cup Goals on YouTube

- Web Goes Wild for World Cup [STATS]

- Which World Cup Fans Are the Most Passionate? Facebook Knows




Rules of the Tournament


world cup group stage

The tournament is largely structured into two parts: a group stage and a knockout stage. The group stage is essentially a round robin organized by team ranking. All World Cup teams were divided into eight groups of four. Each set of four teams play each other during the group stage, the top two teams from each group move on to the knockout stage.

The knockout stage plays like a single-elimination tournament. Teams are seeded into a bracket based on their performance during the group stage. It’s single-game elimination so one loss in the knockout stage is enough to send a team home.

All standard soccer rules apply (no using your hands, 11 players on the field including a goalie, 23 players in total per team). Games are 90 minutes long. If the game is tied after regulation two 15-minute sudden-death overtimes are played. If it’s still tied, the teams go to a heart-pounding, nerve-shredding shoot-out.



For more entertainment coverage, follow Mashable Entertainment on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook




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- 5 Amazing Android Apps for Baseball Fans
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- 5 Reasons Every Sports Fan Should Be On Social Media
- When Social Media Gets Athletes in Trouble

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, daboost

Tags: group stage, knockout stage, rules, score, South Africa, world cup


The World Cup’s Social Media Evolution

world cup map imageKaka, one of the world’s premiere soccer players, is using his Twitter account to connect with fans and do things like share a pair of songs that were written for him. During the last World Cup in 2006 Kaka — or any other player, for that matter — could have connected with fans in that way because, well, Twitter didn’t really exist.

This year’s World Cup has an unprecedented volume of social media outlets and initiatives from Twitter feeds to Facebook fan pages, viral videos to mobile apps and more. With so much access, it’s easy to lose track of where all this social media goodness actually came from. Below is a brief look at how the World Cup and social media have evolved together.


2002 – Korea/Japan World Cup


“Social media” as we know it now (complete with Twitter, Foursquare, etc.) did not exist in 2002, but the World Cup still found ways to connect with fans. (Hey, even at the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, fans could use the technology of the day — telephones — to connect to one another!)

In 2002, the Korea/Japan World Cup was one of the first to utilize the Internet by creating homepages for teams and multiple websites for the tournament. However, social media outreach was still limited in scope. “In ’02, I can’t remember anything, any social media methods with that world cup,” said Sports Illustrated producer Bryan Graham. “… I don’t even think the word ’social media’ even existed.”


2006 – Germany World Cup


weallspeakfootball image

By 2006, social media sites were starting to pick up steam. Facebook had launched but it was still restricted to college and high school students. Similarly, Twitter was still in its beta-stage and hadn’t yet caught on; MySpace was the most popular social networking site in the US. Companies like Adidas, Nike and Puma were early adopters with campaigns that included print ads, television spots and online sites.

Nike in particular teamed up with Google to create “the first social network for soccers fans worldwide,” Joga.com, allowing users to create profiles, view video and connect with fellow fans. Other companies joined in, with Adidas launching a MySpace site featuring video and exclusive content, and Coca-Cola launching a blog to track two unofficial World Cup mascots. Users could provide the mascots with suggestions and track their antics. The blog was a predecessor to similar video sites created for MySpace and YouTube.

“All we did was shoot stuff and talk to people and put it on the blog. And now that’s when the real work begins,” said Franz Strasser, a Digital Reporter/Producer at BBC America that independently blogged during the 2006 World Cup. He and his partner set up a blog to record video during the tournament. They were invited to join Coca-Cola’s WeAllSpeakFootball initiative, a site that posted content from several bloggers and vloggers. “It’s literally crazy thinking about our ‘06 projects and all those smart guys in the room who didn’t even think about Tweeting or even putting it on Facebook.”

The blog, however, lacked social interaction: “Podcasting is not live, you record it and then you post it online,” Strassed said. “But you cannot change anything, it’s done.” Interactive social communities were limited online until the birth of Twitter later in 2006. When Strasser blogged about the 2008 Euro Cup, things had changed: “In 2008 we would post [on Twitter] before we recorded a show. We asked for questions, comments, so that we would have that interaction.”


2010 – South Africa World Cup


fifa banner image

In just the two years since the Euro Cup, social media has exploded around the soccer world. Almost any site that even mentions soccer has embraced social media efforts from blogs to live streams to mobile apps. Even still, new initiatives are launched daily, such as Foursquare’s partnership with CNN to create two new World Cup badges and more than 100 viewing parties taking place across the globe.

Social media will also help link those already in South Africa trying to stay connected between the 10 far-flung soccer stadiums, some more than 1,000 miles apart. “This is a way to tie all of them together,” said Cindy Boren, the Washington Post’s Sports Social Media Editor. “It’s the string that sort of binds it together.”

Traditional media outlets like Sports Illustrated magazine are running profiles of the US national team, but are also including each players Twitter handle (10 of the 23 have accounts). “You know with FIFA, the accessibility of these players is so guarded and so controlled,” Graham said. “Just the idea that these guys are kind of removing filters, connecting with their fans, I can’t believe people aren’t talking about it more. Maybe one reason is that it’s happening across all sports.”

The World Cup starts today (Friday) but the social media storm has been gaining momentum for years ahead of time.



For more social media coverage, follow Mashable Social Media on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook<!--</h3-->




More sports resources from Mashable:


- HOW TO: Follow the 2010 World Cup on Twitter
- 10 Best World Cup Goals on YouTube
- 5 Amazing Android Apps for Baseball Fans
- 5 Brilliant iPhone Apps for Baseball Fans
- How the PGA Tour Uses Social Media to Connect with Fans

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, zorani

Tags: bryan graham, cindy boren, foursquare, franz strasser, kaka, myspace, social media, South Africa, twitter, world cup


June 09 2010

HOW TO: Follow the 2010 World Cup on Twitter

world cup ballThe 2010 World Cup is going to be a very interesting one as far as social media goes — it’s the first to be played out in the Twitter era and the first to fully embrace the social media universe.

This bodes well for avid soccer fans keen to stay up to date with all the most recent news from their favorite players and teams. The real-time nature of Twitter may well entice these newcomers to hop on the micro-blogging site. To get new users ready for the action, we’ve got a few tips for how to follow the World Cup on Twitter complete with a list of who you should be following to stay informed on the games, news, and goings on in South Africa.


1. Hashtags and Searches


hashtag twitter image

While Twitter’s hashtag system is a great way of monitoring a certain topic, and for getting real-time updates on what the Twitterverse is saying about a live event, the organic nature of exactly how the tags are decided can cause confusion.

Currently, there seems to be a fair amount of footie-related tags in circulation, although we’d imagine by the first few days of the tournament these will be narrowed down as the most popular ones become trending topics and are adopted by tweeters.

At the moment, #worldcup seems to be the largest tag by volume of tweets, but #wc2010 is also doing the rounds, as is #2010worldcup. Don’t forget, however, that the World Cup is a global event, so different languages also come into play. In Spanish, World Cup is “Copa Mundial,” in French it’s “Coupe du Monde,” and so on.

Other tags have, of course, sprung up around teams. #England is what most people are using to refer to the England team, while mentions of the United States team can be found under the tag #USMNT.

To quickly access a stream of tweets containing a certain hashtag you can save a search on Twitter, so that the results are just a click away from your home page — and the search can be easily removed after it’s no longer relevant.


2. Lists


world cup twitter list image

The World Cup only lasts for a month, so it’s unlikely you’ll want to permanently follow all the World Cup-related sources you’ll be getting your footie news from over the next four weeks, especially as many sources have been created solely for the event.

The quickest and easiest way to get a month’s worth of World Cup info is to follow a ready-made list. Mashable’s Twitter list directory has World Cup lists ready and waiting and there’s also a Top Tweets account direct from Twitter that algorithmically selects the “top tweets” about the World Cup. Simply follow the list and then you can unfollow it after the final.

Alternatively, if you’re just interested in the big headlines, rather than blow-by-blow coverage, TweetMeme’s World Cup 2010 aggregated feed of popular tweets might be of interest.

It’s more work, but if you’re a little more selective then you can create your own list and simply delete it after the tournament on July 11. To get you started we’ve made some suggestions of World Cup Twitter news resources that can be found below.


3. World Cup News Sources on Twitter


world cup twitter list image

Whether it’s the official FIFA feed, tabloid newspaper coverage, big broadcaster’s headlines or just the final scores, you’ll find the news you need in this list.

2010 FIFA World Cup – “The Twitter page of the 2010 Organizing Committee.” News and updates.

SA2010 World Cup – “Official 2010 FIFA World Cup South African Government website with all the information you need!” News, personal updates and commentary.

FIFAWorldCupTM – “The FIFA soccer world cup tweets. All the latest FIFA news and information on the 2010 soccer world cup.” Updates, human interest, emphasis on players and coaches.

TheFA.com – “The official website for the England Football Team and The FA Cup.” Updates on England players and live Tweets from England matches.

US Soccer – “U.S. Soccer: the governing body of soccer in all its forms in the United States.” Inside look at the US team, players and matches.

CNN World Cup – “All the latest news on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa from CNN International.” News and match scores culled from CNN reporters.

Telegraph World Cup – “World Cup 2010 news, analysis, pictures and video from Telegraph.co.uk” Links back to stories posted by The Telegraph.

NY Times Goal – “The New York Times Soccer Blog reports on the international game and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.” Live updates and links back to New York Times stories.

AP World Cup – “Join the conversation as @ap covers the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.” News, match scores and brief commentary.

BBC World Cup – “A feed dedicated to World Cup headlines from the BBC website.” Links back to BBC.

Sports Illustrated Soccer – “Soccer, World Cup coverage from Sports Illustrated and SI.com writers and photographers.” Player news and general features.

The Sun World Cup – “Follow all the latest news on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with The Sun.” Mostly England updates and news, general match coverage.

Four Four Two – “Humorous but wholehearted, polished but readable, substantial but accessible, it’s football’s most insightful brand – with added F.U.N.” Quirky and off-beat updates, general news.

Fox Soccer News – “FOXSoccer.com headlines.” Links back to Fox Soccer.

World Cup Scores – “Live 2010 world cup soccer scores.” Match scores and live updates.



For more social media coverage, follow Mashable Social Media on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook<!--</h3-->




More sports resources from Mashable:


- 10 Best World Cup Goals on YouTube
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- 5 Brilliant iPhone Apps for Baseball Fans
- How the PGA Tour Uses Social Media to Connect with Fans
- 5 Reasons Every Sports Fan Should Be On Social Media

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kevinjeon00

Tags: football, soccer, South Africa, sport, sport lists, twitter, world cup 2010


June 08 2010

How Dana White Built a UFC Empire with Social Media

ufc poster imageWhen the media refused to cover the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the league cultivated its own massive following through grassroots social media rapport. Now the UFC is the fastest growing sport in the world, and its firebrand CEO, Dana White, still spends almost every day reaching out to fans on the Internet.

I had the opportunity to pick White’s mind about how he leveraged social media to beat his competition. Below are several keys to his success.


Social Media Boot Camp


Much of the UFC’s commitment to social media outreach comes from White himself, an avid Twitter-er. In order to bring his organization up to speed, White hired PR firm Digital Royalty to teach the fighters how to properly use social media. He gave the fighters a simple instruction: “I want you to Twitter your asses off,” recalled Amy Martin, Digital Royalty’s founder and CEO. Digital Royalty ran a one-on-one boot camp with the fighters, churning out 200 new media mavens over the course of three days. After the boot camp, fighter education is still an ongoing effort. “We’re constantly doing one-on-ones with them,” Martin said. “They also have my personal email address and mobile phone number.”

In addition to education, Martin helps orchestrate a real-time “behind the scenes” look at the fighters preparing for a match, video blogging their outlook on the fight. A guest fighter live-tweets from the official UFC account during each event. All this gives die-hard fans as much interaction as they can possibly handle. “The volume is pretty intense,” she said.

Martin maintains that the UFC’s openness and willingness to experiment with social media has been the key to their success. Many large sports franchises are still just dipping their toes in the social media ocean, and are missing an opportunity to capture fan enthusiasm as a result.


Raw Honesty


White is known for his unflinching honesty and his confidence to share even embarrassing or shameful moments with his fans. These important traits have become part of the UFC’s social media brand. When one of the UFC’s star fighters breezed through a prizefight with noticeably little effort, for example, White gave this apologetic interview (which has been viewed over one million times).

Transparency, outreach, and openness are now more important than ever, as social media allows fans to subvert traditional channels and voice their opinions directly. White is willing to meet them halfway, foregoing false showmanship in order to genuinely connect with fans: “Some fights are going to be the best fights you’ve ever seen, and some are going to suck,” White said. “And think you’re better off to go out and talk about why the fight sucked and you know, be honest about it. You’re not going to fool anybody.”


The Power of Twitter


Before broadcast media would air the fights, the UFC was vaulted to popularity through direct interaction with fans on fighter enthusiast blogs. Now, in order to scale with the UFC’s global reach, White has a new favorite sounding board: Twitter. “I love Twitter,” said White. At more than one million followers, it’s clear that the love is mutual. White’s unusually strong commitment to @reply’s and real-life meet-ups has cultivated an incredibly responsive audience.

During the run-up to big fight in Montreal, a marketing agent asked White how he quantified Twitter. White responded, “How do you quantify billboards? How do you quantify newspaper adds? You can’t quantify it. But let me show you how [expletive] strong this is.”

White and his dinner companion strolled over to a local gas station at 11:30 p.m. and tweeted his location. About 36 seconds later one fan had shown up, after three minutes White estimated there were about 100 fans at the gas station.

“Twitter is amazing,” he gushed, “you can talk directly to your fans instantly.” A pessimist could chalk up White’s commitment to fan interaction as a crude PR calculation. The more he talks, however, the more it’s likely that White is a textbook case of what happens when someone has an unmitigated passion for their job.

“Why would I not want to talk to somebody who loves what I do just as much as I do,” White said. “Makes no sense to me… I could sit there and hang out and talk with the fans all day.”

dana white with fans image



For more social media coverage, follow Mashable Social Media on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook




More social media resources from Mashable:

- 5 Things the Library of Congress is Archiving Online
- 5 Ways Government Works Better With Social Media
- How the U.S. Engages the World with Social Media
- How Social Media Can Effect Real Social and Governmental Change
- 6 Ways Law Enforcement Uses Social Media to Fight Crime

Tags: amy martin, dana white, digital royalty, social media, twitter, ufc, youtube


June 07 2010

3 Ways to Watch the 2010 World Cup

worldcup imageSoccer fanatics all over the world are eagerly anticipating the kick-off to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Internet has already started to fill up with soccer-themed viral videos, Twitter accounts and epic trailers. This year’s tournament has already been hyped as “the first social media world cup,” but what if you want to actually watch your favorite team compete?

ESPN and ABC have teamed up to bring to your television — in some combination — every single soccer match being played. For footy-fans who don’t have a television, need even more coverage, or simply prefer watching sports on a laptop screen, here are some options for you to watch this year’s World Cup.


1. Live Stream


No TV? ESPN3.com will be live streaming all but 10 of the 64 matches, with ESPNradio and ESPN Mobile providing coverage and stat updates for the rest. You can access individual match streams via the sports drop-down on their website. The best part is that ESPN3’s World Cup coverage is absolutely, 100% free after a prompt to login to your Internet service provider. The catch is that you can’t access the streams unless your Internet provider already pays for access (no love for Time Warner Cable, but full access for Comcast, Verizon or Yahoo users).

univision image

Univision will also be live streaming every single match for free online at UnivisionFutbol.com. In addition to matches, Univision has updated their suite of social media options with real-time game stats, commentary, player interviews and behind-the-scene exclusives. For anyone looking to get a jump on the games, Univision offers video on match history and player profiles from World Cup legends past and present. While the site is pretty self-explanatory, knowledge of Spanish helps.


2. Highlights, Recaps, and Post-Game


Half the fun of World Cup soccer is reliving the best goals, moves and moments. There are a slew of sports sites that can dig up ongoing coverage after the match, but several stand out.


FIFA


The official home of the FIFA World Cup is also home to an extensive video library constantly updated with highlights, exclusive interviews and features including a tribute to Nelson Mandela, match reactions and culture spots.


Footytube


Footytube is a website dedicated to soccer videos — from the smallest European leagues all the way up to the World Cup. It’s a good place to look for previous highlights from your favorite players and more esoteric vids like an unofficial World Cup song from Germany. Footytube features highlights from each game as well as a soccer video news feed.


ESPN on YouTube


For those unable to reach ESPN3, their official YouTube channel has a bunch of video previews organized by team as well as commentary from sportscasters. It’s a little glossier and a little less in-depth than Footytube, but look for content to spike when the games officially start.


3. Watch It With Real People


Nothing’s better than sharing that last-minute clutch goal celebration with a group of fellow fans, or having a shoulder to cry on when your team gets eliminated (knock on wood). When television or live streaming isn’t enough, check out these lists of soccer bars to watch the action with your country-men-and-women:

The New York Daily News offers this extensive list of hotspots around New York with “Get Ready to Fill Your Cup,” while GQ Magazine throws in its own national picks for “The Best Soccercentric Bars in America.”

Along with a slew of stats and updates, LiveSoccerTV also dedicates a whole section of its site to soccer pubs. With more than 200 bars listed across America (and more than 125 in Canada) you’re sure to find some place that’s showing the game. While Premium Listed pubs have good information like which teams the pub supports, most listings are just street addresses, so you might want to look them up before you go.

Who knew there was a U.S. Soccer Official Bar Program? This site is a goldmine for those supporting Team USA, featuring an interactive map of pro-USA bars across the country. There is an application process to get on the list so you know the bars have been approved and vetted by U.S. Soccer.

New York’s Internet week (June 7-14) also has its share of World Cup meet ups. Celebrate the start of the games by watching USA vs. England at a sponsored World Cup Kickoff & Tweetup this Friday. Whatever team you support, dress (and tweet) accordingly.


Bonus: Watch It On A Boat


If you’ve always wanted to watch the World Cup on a boat, One Ocean Club has set up a World Cup cruise that will broadcast the matches while sailing between Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Other cruise lines have promised to show the games, but be careful — some of them have staked their team loyalties. For example, Carnival’s U.K. brands are pro-England while Thomson Cruises will also be showing Brazil and Spain.

Whatever your persuasion, be sure to check back for continuing World Cup coverage or leave your own viewing suggestions in the comments below.



For more web video coverage, follow Mashable Web Video on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook




More sports resources from Mashable:


- Top 6 Free World Cup iPhone Apps
- 10 Best World Cup Goals on YouTube
- When Social Media Gets Athletes in Trouble
- 5 Predictions for Athletes on Social Media in 2010
- 5 Social Media Lessons the NBA Can Teach Businesses

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, monkeybusinessimages

Tags: espn3, fifa, footytube, List, Lists, Live Stream, South Africa, sports, twitter, us soccer, viral videos, web video, world cup


June 06 2010

Top 6 Free World Cup iPhone Apps


Call it whatever you like — football, soccer, the game with the black and white checkered ball that you kick around the field. Pick a name and get ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Every four years soccer fans go wild and neighborhood bars are packed to the brim in broad daylight with devoted viewers.

While the BBC and ITV apps that promise to stream the games and video highlights have yet to be released, there are still some great, free iPhone apps to satisfy your World Cup appetite.


1. World Cup Countdown


We know you’ve been counting the days until the non-stop soccer action. This app counts down the excitement by the days, minutes, hours and seconds until it all begins on June 11th. The app also has an interactive photo slideshow with a series of cool pictures of South Africa. You can click on the photos to learn more about each scene.

There are even interesting video and audio options, like a spectacular overview of the countryside and some local music and dance moves. It’s a great way to learn about the country hosting the games, especially if you are planning to attend in person.


2. ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup


This app has just about everything you need to prepare for the tournament. With a full schedule, you’ll never miss your team in action. The app allows you to select your favorite team or teams so you can easily keep track of all the news surrounding them. It also has full biographies and stats for each player for all 32 teams, so you’ll know exactly who is playing the game.

Super-fans will appreciate the app for its extensive history of the tournament, which dates back to 1930, and includes an overview, trivia and controversies for each year. Sign in with your myESPN account to post comments about your team or participate in the “Fantasy Bracket Predictor,” where you can attempt to forecast the outcome of each World Cup match.


3. World Football Live!


This app gives you the latest news about all things football/soccer from BBC Sports, Yahoo! Euro Sports, and ESPN. News is updated in real-time and you can bookmark your favorite articles or e-mail them to your friends. The app also lets users browse offline. Once you’ve updated the latest news, you can read all the downloaded articles without a WiFi or 3G connection.


4. AP 2010 World Cup Coverage


The Associated Press has been covering the games since the very beginning and is committed to giving fans full coverage. Once the games start, the app will provide up-to-the-minute news from more than 100 journalists in South Africa who will be covering the action. It has a multi-language platform and users can choose to get their soccer fix in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese.

With customizable skins for each team, you can show everyone (at least everyone you show your phone to anyway) who you are rooting for. There is an easy to follow schedule feature that shows which teams are playing and at what time. Also, a photo and video feature will be updated once the tournament starts. The app also has a “venue” feature and lists a bit of history and interesting facts about all 10 stadiums where the games will be played.


5. World Cup Factoids and History


If you really want to know what you’re talking about when you say that Germany is going to kick some butt, this is the app for you. With lists of every winner, host nation, defending champion and number of appearances since 1930, you’ll be able to make some informed predictions as to who will take home this year’s big title.

History buffs will swoon for the detailed chronicles of pre-tournament dates, starting with the world’s first international soccer match between Scotland and England in 1872. The app also connects you to news from BBC, ESPN and the official FIFA site. You can help spread World Cup fever (not that it really needs the help) by pressing the button that lets you tweet about the application.


6. World Cup Trivia Challenge Lite


Once you’ve brushed up on your facts and history, you’ll be ready for this game. Set on a soccer field, the lite version of this app has 50 questions that will test your soccer hooligan mettle. It’s a fast-paced game. With 90 seconds on the timer, you must answer questions like “How many nations appeared for the first time in 2006?”

Once you get three questions right, you score a “goal.” For every question you get wrong, your opponent (who isn’t actually answering any questions) scores a point. There are three stages to work through and it includes a penalty shoot-out for a tie game. You can even listen to the sounds of whistles, cheers and music from a real life game, or choose to turn them off.

Once you’ve mastered all 50 questions, you can upgrade to the paid version for $1.99, where 600 more questions are ready to test your fandom.



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More iPhone resources from Mashable:

- Top 10 iPhone Apps for TV Fanatics
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- 10 Best iPhone Apps for Dog Lovers

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, zentilia


Reviews: Facebook, Twitter, iPhone, iStockphoto, news

Tags: ESPN, fans, football, iphone, iphone application, iphone applications, iphone apps, Lists, Mobile 2.0, MyESPN, soccer, South Africa, sports, world cup, world cup 2010


March 16 2010

The Ultimate March Madness Social Media Guide

As far as we’re concerned, March means Madness of the basketball variety, and keeping up with all aspects of the NCAA tournament is an absolute must. If you feel the same way, then we think you’ll find our complete guide to all things college basketball on the social web indispensable.

A recent survey revealed that this year, more Americans than ever are going to be turning to the web and social media for their NCAA fix. Although traditional TV comes out on top, 54% of those quizzed are planning to catch the action live online, 10% via a mobile device, and 18% through various social networks. If you’re one of the many participating online this year, check out these resources.


Facebook Fast Break

Facebook is a popular destination for NCAA fans. Not only can you catch up on the latest news, but you can get your fellow basketball-loving buddies involved too — whether it’s for some trash talking, or to celebrate the win of a mutually fave team.

The Official NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Facebook Fan Pages will allow you to connect with nearly 10,000 others (4,000 on the Women’s page) on the social networking site.

As well as having info on the NCAA with links to sites of interest, the Pages offer informal commentary from the NCAA teams, fan comments and insight, ticketing info, and comprehensive events data.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a bracket system that’s available within Facebook, then Bracket Challenge by Citizen Sports is a popular option. The free Facebook app will get you making your picks in no time at all, and offers the chance at a $5,000 grand prize. Bracket Challenge also has the option to create pools with your friends.


Mobile Madness

Pocket Bracket iPhone App

Citizen Sports also offers a free companion app (to their aforementioned Facebook application) for the iPhone or iPod touch with customizable push notifications for your favorite teams.

More mobile options include the 99 cent Pocket Bracket for the iPhone and Android devices that allows you to create unlimited brackets and organize pools from your phone. You can compete against thousands of users on the PocketBracket Network, as well as your friends, family, and coworkers.

The Baseline Fan series of apps, available for the iPhone and iPod touch, offer basic team-specific data for 99 cents a pop, while fans of free should take a look at Talk Hoops, another dual-platform app, offering aggregated news in one place.


Web-based Winners

Facebook and phones certainly aren’t the only places to get your bracket challenge fix. There is a wealth of online options, many offering larges cash prizes, should you be astute enough to pick the perfect bracket. Of course, the odds of that happening are a whopping 9.2 quintillion to 1. Still, the contests below are all great places to make your picks and each (excluding Applebee’s) come from sites that offer a dearth of tournament news, scores, opinions, and analysis, as well.

The 2010 Yahoo! Sports Tourney Pick’em game offers a whopping million dollar prize for a perfect bracket, while having the next highest scoring bracket will nab you $10,000. This gives you the option to join the masses or create a private group with invites that can be sent via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

If you don’t have a Yahoo! ID or care to create one, there’s also ESPN’s 2010 Tournament Challenge, as well as another chance at a $1 million prize from restaurant chain Applebee’s.

Also getting in on the online action is Fox Sports with their bracket challenge, and CBS, which is offering the enticing grand prize of a 2011 Infiniti M for the top bracket champ.

The biggest prize this year, though, has to be from AOL’s Fanhouse, with the SoBe Lifewater Zero Inhibitions Bracket Challenge that boasts a $9 million jackpot for anyone with a perfect bracket. (Again, though, good luck with that.)


Video Slam Dunk

NCAA Live Stream Image

With your bracket picked, you need to find somewhere to watch the action, and while the NCAA’s official YouTube channel offers a good overview of the organization, the better destination for live coverage is the NCAA March Madness on Demand website.

Powered by CBS, this website offers free live streaming video of every game in the 2010 championship. That means, the only things you’ll need to watch the entire tournament is your computer and an Internet connection. In addition to the live streams, there will be game highlights for those that need to catch up in a hurry, and full game archives for any poor sucker that missed a must-see match. A “High Quality” player option offers a widescreen view with a better quality feed.

If you can’t get yourself in front on a computer in time for tip-off, then the CBS Sports NCAA March Madness On-Demand app for the iPhone and iPod touch is a great option. It’s also perfect for those who don’t want to be tied to their desk or television screen during the tournament.

NCAA iPod Video

For $10, this app will give you live streaming video of all 63 games via either Wi-Fi or a cellular connection, from the first round through the finals. The app also offers game previews, a real-time tournament bracket, scores and headlines, and the option to comment and trash talk via Facebook and Twitter.


Twitter Tip-Offs

As with any other topic you could possibly name, Twitter offers a great way to keep up with what’s happening in the world of NCAA basketball, and there are a few Twitter accounts you should follow if you want to stay in the hoop… sorry — loop.

The main NCAA Twitter account offers all sorts of official news from the world of college sports. But if you’re only after hoop-specific NCAA news, the basketball account is where it’s at.

Elsewhere, you can grab news snippets from the Twitter home of the “ubiquitous college basketblog” Rush the Court.

If you like getting your basketball news from sources who can add a bit of commentary to the game, then there’s a ton of sports journos tweeting who can offer just that.

Tweeple that cover the NCAA basketball championship for various media outlets include 12 New York Times reporters and editors at The Quad, and a team of Sports Illustrated writers and photographers as well.

ESPN fans can follow longtime college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, senior writer and college basketball reporter Andy Katz, college hoops reporter Dana O’Neil, and Jimmy Dykes, who works for ESPN and also offers analysis on ABC.

CBS meanwhile comes in with Seth Davis, as well as columnist Gary Parrish, who should offer you some good insight into the Big Dance.


Conclusion

If we’ve overlooked a service you use, be sure to shout it out in the comments. Or, if you have an idea for an even better way to use social media to keep up-to-date with the March Madness, then Coke Zero wants to hear from you as part of their clever, basketball-themed social media promotion.

The fizzy drink company is currently asking for ideas to improve the NCAA fan experience. A winning idea could net you $10,000 and tickets to the 2011 Final Four. So get your thinking caps on!


More sports resources from Mashable:


- 5 Reasons Every Sports Fan Should Be On Social Media
- 5 Social Media Lessons the NBA Can Teach Businesses
- When Social Media Gets Athletes in Trouble
- How the PGA Tour Uses Social Media to Connect with Fans
- Social Media Analysis: The 2010 Winter Olympics

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, http://www.istockphoto.com/user_view.php?id=185191

Tags: basketball, facebook, iphone apps, List, Lists, march madness, NCAA, sports, twitter


February 12 2010

3 Social Media Sources for Official NBA All-Star Content

Jalen Rose is a former 13-year NBA star and current ESPN sports analyst but may be best known for being a member of the famous University of Michigan Fab Five.

This year’s NBA All-Star weekend will be held in Dallas, Texas, and like all others that came before, it will be an awesome spectacle. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and this event will be no exception. The 59th All-Star Game will be played this Sunday, February 14th at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. This venue has the potential to hold a large crowd and could break the all-time NBA attendance record. The old All-Star record was 44,735 people at the Houston Astrodome in 1989. In 1998, the largest ever regular-season crowd at an NBA game was 62,046 strong at the Georgia Dome to see the Atlanta Hawks play Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. With a crowd approaching 90,000, the 2010 All-Star game should definitely surpass these records. Those in attendance will be a part of history.

A lot of fans will find themselves navigating the Internet looking for the best information about the All-Star Game. The National Basketball Association has done an amazing job at making NBA.com a one-stop destination for its fans. NBA.com is easy to navigate, and has all the resources that you need, from schedules of events to highlights. Here are some of the other things they’re doing for All-Star Weekend.


1. Twitter

With over 1.7 million followers, the NBA’s Twitter account has become a great portal for fans to get quick, accurate information about games, teams, and players. They’ve already started to talk about All-Star Weekend with the hashtag #AS10 and they’ll continue to do so all weekend long. The NBA is also retweeting players and teams who are talking about the festivities in Dallas. Along with the #AS10 hashtag, the NBA is using #SpriteSlam for the Slam Dunk Contest, which will take place on Saturday night. Further, they’ve created the @100FromAS10 Twitter account, which will capture 100 different tweets from 100 different VIPs who are down in Dallas for the weekend. Yesterday, the NBA tweeted out an #AS10 Scavenger Hunt for fans who were down in Dallas early.


2. Facebook

The NBA has almost 1.9 million fans on Facebook, and they’re doing a fantastic job of putting out great content for all of those people. You can definitely expect more content throughout the weekend. Earlier today, they promoted a Dunk Contest Marathon they were hosting on NBA TV all day, to get people hyped up about the competition and the weekend in general. I expect to see more highlights, videos, and efforts to get the fans talking in the coming days.


3. NBA.com

NBA.com is rich with content revolving around All-Star Weekend. Specifically, there are a ton of videos from past All-Star Weekends, as well as footage from this year’s event. With the NBA Tweetmixx, you can see what NBA insiders and NBA fans are saying (and linking to) about All-Star weekend on Twitter. The NBA also built the All-Star Weekend widgets for fans to take advantage of on their own sites and blogs.

As a fan, you want to have the ability to get information the way you want it, and now. With the All-Star Weekend upon us, we all want to make sure that we don’t miss the amazing dunks and great match-ups, but most of all, we’re looking forward to a great game.

What do you think about the way the NBA is utilizing its online and social media presence to cover ASW? What could they be doing better?


More sports resources from Mashable:


- How Social Media Is Changing the Super Bowl
- When Social Media Gets Athletes in Trouble
- 5 Predictions for Athletes on Social Media in 2010
- 5 Social Media Lessons the NBA Can Teach Businesses
- 5 Reasons Every Sports Fan Should Be On Social Media

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, toddtaulman


Reviews: STAR, Twitter, iStockphoto

Tags: basketball, fab five, facebook, jalen rose, NBA, NBA All-Star Game, social media, sports, twitter, video, web


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