You might think video would be the most popular attraction at NBC (NYSE: GE) Sports online. Not so. Last month, 21 million of the roughly 29 million visits NBCSports.com recorded were to its *NBC* Sports Talk blogs, led by Mike Florio’s Pro Football Talk.
Now, mostly through word of blog, in just four days, a new NBC Sports Talk app is at the top of the iPad free sports list. The app is uncomplicated as these things go — basically square blocks of headlines and photos from six different feeds stacked in rows, a graphical limited RSS reader. The NBC Sports Talk franchise started in 2008, when the network got Florio to move his popular ProFootballTalk.com to NBCSports.com. The concept was expanded to a number of other sports with Hardball Talk, Pro Basketball Talk, Pro Hockey Talk, College Football Talk, and Inside the Irish.
It won’t stay this simple for long. NBC Sports and developer Vertigo already are working on an update for early December that will add Pro Golf Talk and a number of features, including exclusive video and in-app comments. For now, the only way to share is e-mail or copying a URL; the update will include Twitter and other sharing. Likely more important for those who don’t follow every sport in the group, the update should allows users to create their own order and exclude the ones they don’t want to follow. The update also should have a top news section. The road map includes an iPhone version before the end of the year and an Android app in January.
The app is also pretty simple where sponsors are concerned — so far, there are none. The limited NFL Shop ads running now are an extension of the site. NBC Sports hopes to announce a sponsor soon.
Why not wait for the more robust app and a sponsor? That’s the way it would have worked in the not-so-old days but I’ll give NBC Sports points for getting something that works into the hands of users and finessing it as it goes along. It’s already relatively late in the pro football season and a few weeks away from the end of college football’s season; waiting any longer could cost on the opportunity side. It would be different for a paid app; the tolerance level for entry apps that cost even a dollar is a lot lower than when the iPad launched in April. But getting this one out pre-holidays give NBC Sports the chance to focus on its first goal for the app: extend the PTF franchise beyond the web.