Thursday, September 24, 2009

Media Watch: ESPN's Radio iPhone App

ESPN just launched a new iPhone app for ESPN Radio that is getting a ton of publicity -- for good reason. Like NPR's recent app launch, it is a game-changer for its fans.

Mainly, I want to concur with JoeSportsfan's Matt Sebek, who gives you everything you could possibly want in an app review here.

Between the ability to listen to ESPN podcasts (sigh: I stumblingly pitched a Daily Quickie podcast back in 2006...) and the ability to listen to local radio streams, it is a terrific utility.

I agree with Matt that using iTunes to manage your full range of ESPN and non-ESPN podcasts (and run them in the background when using other iPhone apps) is valuable.

But that's not ESPN's challenge. ESPN's challenge is to make their content available where fans want to access it. They do that through iTunes. Now, they do that through iPhone apps.

ESPN was always going to dominate this when they decided to get into it as content providers, rather than the ill-fated ESPN Mobile attempt to be a carrier/distributor. ESPN's instantly dominating rankings on the app sales lists affirms that.

What I really like seeing is ESPN taking a leadership position beyond sports -- they are introducing iPhone apps that are setting standards for any media company, not just sports media. This fits with what ESPN is doing with local online coverage, what they're doing with social media and beyond.

I have been a little disappointed by ScoreCenter (is it me: why can't I find automated, app-driven NFL and college football scores and stats, without going to on my mobile browser?) and don't need the Fantasy app (I play on Yahoo and use their app plus CitizenSports' great fantasy team-tracker).

But this ESPN Radio app is tremendously valuable. It is well-conceived, well-designed and does much of what you would hope it would do. It is a must-have... and, frankly, a bargain at $2.99 (consider what you pay each month for your cable package).

Check out Matt's review here.

-- D.S.

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