Global sports heavyweight ESPN has launched a new app that it hopes will satisfy all the needs of its biggest fans. The new SportsCenter app, launched today, is a reimagining of its old ScoreCenter app — and it’s built to provide fans with all the biggest scores and highlights happening around the sports world. But it’s also built to provide a deep layer of personalization into the app, which is designed to keep them up-to-date with the teams that are most important to them.
The SportsCenter app is part of ESPN’s consolidation of many of its standalone apps under Product Development SVP Ryan Spoon. When Spoon joined, the company had more than 45 different apps that it had built and maintained. It’s whittled that down to about a dozen over the past year and a half.
The remaining apps all fit into what Spoon calls core ESPN properties: There’s the new SportsCenter app, ESPN fantasy apps, ESPN Radio apps, and the popular WatchESPN live video apps for mobile, tablet, and connected TV devices. When it comes time, ESPN will also probably have an Olympics app for the 2014 Winter Games, Spoon said, but for the most part the focus has been on consolidating and realigning its app ecosystem.
As a result, ESPN will be leaning on its SportsCenter app to be the go-to place for sports fans on the go to get updates on what’s happening around sports, as well as all their favorite teams.
When you open the app for the first time, you’re asked to specify which teams you’d like to follow, and you can set alerts to send push notifications when there’s team news, or to give updates over the course of a game. Setting your favorite teams not only gets you up-to-the-minute updates, but it also provides a whole new level of personalization through the app’s Favorites tab.
After that, the app opens to reveal the SportsCenter “Scores” tab, which breaks down all the top games and matchups that are happening over the course of the day. Right next to it is the “News” tab, which brings in all of the top news that’s happening. And next to that is the “Now” tab, which brings in Tweets from a wide variety of ESPN personalities, which users can retweet or respond to directly within the app.
There are a number of cool new features within the app, such as the way stories flow into one another — once you’ve scrolled down to the end of one article, the headline of the following article appears directly beneath it. There’s also a big emphasis on video, enabling readers to watch related clips directly in-line within the article.
Personalization extends beyond just the user’s favorites tab. There’s also a new “Inbox” feature that is designed to present all the most relevant sports information based on all the teams they’re following, rather than just one-by-one.
Along with the redesign, ESPN decided to make a few cosmetic changes that would better reflect each mobile platform that its fans are using. The iPhone app is designed to match with the major new flat design that Apple instituted with iOS 7. And the Android app is no longer just a port of the iOS version, but designed to borrow the usability and design functionality of Google’s mobile operating system.
The hope is that, with more personalization and easier navigation of the app, user will be more engaged, stick around longer, and eventually view more ads. For diehard sports fans, that’s probably a safe bet.