Archive for April, 2016

TechGraphs News Roundup: 4/8/2016

Greetings, fair TechGraphs readers. It’s a good weekend for sports fans — what with the beginning of the baseball season, the winding down of the NHL regular season, and yet another edition of The Masters. In case you were too busy getting your DFS lineups ready (void where prohibited), here are the news stories that we found interesting this week.

Speaking of The Masters; they released a new app for iOS that will let you stream the whole tournament. The streaming capability is obviously cool, but the whole app itself looks like a really well done production.

If audio is more of your thing, you can catch full Masters coverage courtesy of TuneIn. Golf of the radio?! How will we contain our excitement?! What a time to be alive.

If you’re anything like me, VR makes you a bit motion sick. However, it might be willing to stomach it (pun 94% intended) if it means I can use StubHub’s new tech to see the exact view from my perspective seat.

If VR doesn’t make you queasy (and you play professional baseball), you can now use VR for batting practice.

Wrestlemania was this past Sunday, and it appears that some WiFi outages at AT&T Stadium had some wouldbe attendees stuck at the entrance gates.

Apple and MLB have always been pretty tight when it comes to product integration, and now it seems that Apple is turning Siri into some kind of baseball trivia guru. Full disclosure: I asked her/it a bunch of questions and she did not perform well. She didn’t even know the Astros record in 2005!

The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is over now, so you can stop checking your brackets online. Many articles have been written about how much companies lose due to people making/checking brackets at work. However, Techcrunch has an interesting look at the possible security implications of all those people visiting sports web sites on their work machines.

We already covered it here, but in case you missed it, you’ll be able to watch some NFL games on Twitter this season. That still feels weird to type.

We’ll have more on this in the future, but it’s a pretty big deal that MLB is now allowing (some) wearable tech on the field this season.

This could be big news for Zepp’s new, very cool bat sensors, though they haven’t been approved as of yet.

ESPN Radio (along with some more music services) can now be streamed on your T-Mobile phone without hits to your data cap, thanks to their Bing On plan.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and be excellent to each other.


With Twitter/NFL Deal, It’s All About Execution

It was recently announced that Twitter will begin streaming NFL games on Thursday nights. In yet another attempt to bring more users into the fold, Twitter has made a sizable investment in bringing the country’s biggest sport to its platform. The details are fuzzy at this point, so we don’t know the exact way this thing is going to shake out. But the devil is in the details, in this case. What this whole thing will actually look like will have a great deal to do with its success. To ride the rails of a fairly-tired cliche; We know the who, what, where, when, and (mostly) why. The biggest question mark revolves around how.

A while back, I heard Ben Thompson — tech analyst and host of the Exponent podcast — describe Twitter and its problems in a way that stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but he essentially said that issue is that Twitter is that its dealing with two groups of people — people who tried their platform and didn’t like it, and people who love it and never want it to change. Somehow, they have to placate both crowds. They have the tech. They certainly have the brand recognition. They just need more people. With the NFL deal, they’re going after new audiences. But trying to solve the problem of gaining new users might run them headfirst into their second problem — those who don’t want it to change.

For people (especially sports fans) who use the platform, Twitter makes and excellent companion to watching something on TV. You hear about companies looking to expand the “second screen experience.” That all started with Twitter. It was a way to share and interact around a centralized event — the Super Bowl, the Oscars, a big news story. You watch on your TV, and you follow along with others’ views (and share your own) on your phone. But Twitter is trying to make your second screen your first screen in this case. Which is all fine and good, but it opens the situation up to a paradox. How can one share their feelings about an event on social media when the social media platform is how they’re watching said event?

Twitter is a large company that employs a whole lot of people smarter than I, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt at this point. But if they want to keep the people they’re bringing in with the NFL offering and avoid ridicule from their current user base, they’re going to have to tread lightly. The experience is almost certainly going to have two elements. There will be the actual video stream, of course, and there will need to be a way for people to still read and share on the Twitter service. UI is key here. There are a lot of options for something like a laptop screen.

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But how does this work on phones and smaller tablets? Will there be enough real estate for everything?

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Let us not forget the fact that seemingly every time Twitter makes a change, people lose their minds. Most recently it was (probably rightfully so) algorithmic feeds, but there are countless other UI changes and other tweaks that drive the Twitter faithful crazy. Twitter is no doubt going to use its product to advertise the crap out of their NFL offering when the time comes. If that experience is lackluster, there will be noise about it.

If Twitter doesn’t nail this, NFL fans are going to happily return to watching on TV. CBS itself is even offering a stream of the games on their own platform, so it’s not as if Twitter has a monopoly here. There are other avenues fans can travel. Twitter is making a push — taking chances and working hard to bring their product to forefront of social media while trying desperately to take a bite out of Facebook’s current dominance. You can’t fault them for trying. But if history is any indication, they’re really going to need to nail this. They need to impress new customers while trying not to piss off the current ones. It’s an unenviable position. But a ten-year-old company that is still struggling to post profits needs to put themselves in that kind of position every now and again. They’re partnering with a very recognizable brand. If I were a lesser man, I would advise them not to fumble the opportunity.