BBC Aims For More Int’l Growth, Releases First Worldwide Sports App For iOS, Android Coming Soon

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The UK’s BBC began to test the waters for BBC Sport apps globally last summer with the launch of a special app featuring content from the London Olympics, and today that game is entering its next quarter: BBC today released a new BBC Sport app for iOS, the first that will be made available to consumers outside the UK. The BBC says that an Android version will also be coming soon.

For now, this looks like an attempt at laying the groundwork: as with the Olympics app from this past summer, there are no videos of sporting events included in the app. Instead, it focuses on sports news, live scores, stats, commentary and game/event analysis. The app says it will cover international fixtures but it will likely continue to keep a focus on UK sports, so all you England Premier League, Rugby, Cricket and Curling fans out there can rejoice. It becomes the latest in a line up of apps offered internationally by the BBC. BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s international and commercial arm, which totals nearly 70 (40 apps for iPhone and iPod touch; 29 apps for iPad specifically); the BBC says that this specific Sport app comes from BBC.com.

The new BBC Sport app is free of charge to download and use — although there will likely be more commercial elements intoduced in the future, either by paying for content, as you do for the BBC’s Global iPlayer video app; or via advertising; or maybe both. (While BBC does not have a commercial mandate, BBC Worldwide, which creates and distributes content internationally and on new platforms, does.)

With an Android app still on the way, and no news of when apps for other platforms like Windows Phone or Windows may be coming, for now those on non-iOS devices are instructed to the BBC’s mobile website, which has been optimized with a responsive design that automatically renders the site to whatever screen is being used, up to 7″.

That sports mobile web site — which is already accessible worldwide — is already a traffic driver for the BBC on mobile devices, noted James Montgomery, Controller of Digital and Technology, BBC Global News, in a statement.

“Thanks to our responsive mobile site, the sports content we provide on mobile devices is already a large traffic driver for the BBC, which gives us a competitive edge in international markets. Now with the launch of our international sports app for iOS devices, we are giving users another simple way to get the content.”

But with apps generally providing better engagement and a wider range of user experiences for consumers, the launch of the native apps will give the BBC a way of getting closer to, and eventually making money on the back of, its international audience.

The BBC doesn’t break out the size of its Sport audience but notes that internationally, the BBC World News channel is in over 200 countries as well as 350 million+ households and 1.8 million hotel rooms, as well as via 23 mobile phone networks. BBC.com, launched only in November 2007, has 58 million unique visitors each month.