February 6, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
Sports is major part of my social interactions. I’m guaranteed to discuss soccer, basketball, or football whenever I talk to my father or brother, and we’re only a text message or call away from complaining or celebrating.
OnSports is an app focused on that sole purpose of connecting sports fans through the mobile devices they keep close. There’s a tremendous focus of the app centered on user-generated content and discussions, making sports – before, during, and after the game – a more social and informative experience.
Considering that Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest sporting event of the year, and only 2 of the 3 men in the Kameka clan watched the game together, I decided to take OnSports for a spin and see how the app works. Here’s a log of my impressions from using the app yesterday.
9:30 AM: Talk to me
After eating my off-brand corn flakes, I start browsing OnSports. The app is simple and beautiful with a UI focused on a red top banner, gray background, white text, and game photos. I instantly notice that while OnSports has a news section, it’s downplayed for the sake of discussion. The first section seen when launching the app is filled with user polls and discussions organized according to specific sports.
Then I notice that many of the discussions are repetitive or stale. There are multiple posts about who should be the NFL MVP, and a “discussion” of the best NBA player of all-time (obviously Michael Jordan). I counted at least 20 different versions of “Who will win the Super Bowl?” and only one of them has more than two people participating.
OnSports can filter according to sport, and since Manchester United vs. Chelsea is on, I decide to focus on the EPL a little bit. Discussions are rare and sometimes pointless, but there are news articles pulled in from ESPN, The Guardian, Eurosport, fan blogs, and much more. By linking with a Facebook or Twitter account, OnSports creates profiles to become “Fans” of other users and follow the posts they make. This is a great way to follow what others are saying and doing in the app. Users can then select teams as their Favorites and create a view dedicated only to those teams individually or collectively.
1:30 PM: Change the game
Man U vs. Chelsea has finished and I decide to switch to the Miami Heat vs. Raptors game. There’s a lot more activity in the NBA section, so OnSports’ social problem becomes clear – the people. Despite being available for several weeks and having 500,000 downloads, OnSports is only as good as the users contributing, and they aren’t always on their game. The app needs some kind of curation or formula change to push popular posts to the top and get rid of the repetitive topics. For an app with such a focus on social, there needs to be some way to encourage adoption.
10:45 PM: Game Over
Super Bowl preparation and excitement took up most of the afternoon/evening, but I peeked at my phone here and there. The Giants eventually won the Super Bowl, and I’m still in a state of euphoria. But before I go off to fail to get some sleep, I decide to jot down my final impressions of OnSports.
The app is beautifully designed and has a great organization of the content it presents. I’d prefer if the News section had full articles rather than abbreviated feeds, but navigation is a breeze. I’m a fan of the Scores section that provides updates for in-progress games mixed with smack talk from fans. Any app can tell you the score is 80-75, but you get more color from seeing what people are saying about the game. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy live-tweeting sports events.
OnSports is a mixed bag for me because it suffers from the early-adopter phase of most social products. The tools are there, but the amount of people necessary to make it really shine aren’t depending on what sports you follow. With a larger audience, this would be a phenomenal app. For now, it’s just a good-looking option for folks who want to keep up with sports news. Invite your social circle to join and this could be a good tool to have in the run-up to the next big sports event.
Click the image below to download it from the Android Market.