ScoreCenter is dead, long live SportsCenter: ESPN (S DIS) relaunched one of its most popular mobile apps under the SportsCenter brand Thursday, adding video highlights, social media and personalization to take the mobile sports experience beyond just scores.
The relaunch comes as ESPN is seeing huge growth in mobile usage. In September, the number of unique mobile users for the first time eclipsed the number of visitors of ESPN’s desktop website, with 47.4 million people using ESPN’s mobile offerings and 46.1 million visiting ESPN.com.
ESPN’s ScoreCenter app has seen more than 50 million downloads total, and ESPN Digital Media SVP Ryan Spoon told me earlier this week that the network was very mindful about renaming the app and aligning it closely with the SportsCenter brand. The goal of the new app is to be “a very strong relative of the TV show,” he said, which is why it integrates tweets from ESPN shows and on-air personalities. Also integrated are deep links to the WatchESPN app, which offers authenticated viewers a way to tune in live for ongoing games, or catch up on previous events.
At the same time, the SportsCenter app isn’t just about ESPN, but about sports, period. That’s why users can customize the app and track scores of their favorite teams, no matter on which network the games might air. ESPN doesn’t own both screens in every case, he explained, but that doesn’t mean the network shouldn’t offer sports fans something compelling on the small screen.
Speaking of multi-screen viewing: SportsCenter doesn’t use any kind of automatic content recognition or similar gimmicks to figure out what viewers are watching. Spoon said that syncing content wouldn’t always be helpful, because fans often like to watch one game on TV while they track another on their phone or tablet.
And besides, fans already know their favorites, and share them with the app, so there’s not really a good reason to offer a lot of the bells and whistles available in other second-screen apps. “Fantasy football is kind of the original second screen,” Spoon said.
Check out a few screenshots of the app below: