In advance of the 2014 World Cup, ESPN partners with Mobovivo to launch ESPN Sync

By Natan Edelsburg 

screen480x480In advance of the 2014 World Cup, ESPN has partnered with Mobovivo to launch ESPN Sync, a second screen app for iOS [available now] and Android devices [coming in December]. Mobovivo is known for its companion apps for sports and live events, and its advertising abilities.

“With the app in hand, fans can access all the relevant information and statistics they need to stay informed about the teams and players during the live broadcast of matches,” said Luis Olivalves, New Business Director with ESPN Brasil. “A dedicated team within the framework of ESPN will create behind-the-scenes content for soccer broadcasts starting in Oct. 2013.

espnsyncViewers will be able to follow and interact with soccer matches broadcast by ESPN including the 2014 World Cup, World Cup Qualifiers, Champions League, Brazil Cup and domestic leagues in Europe. The app features trivia, statistics, voting, videos, rewards and targeted advertising. One of app’s most unique features is Ask the Announcer,  which will allow fans to ask and receive answers to questions from ESPN personalities. Here’s our interview with Olivalves.

Lost Remote: Describe ESPN’s sports coverage in Brazil. What are the most popular sports and programs?
Luis Olivalves: Of course, Brazilians are big football fans and the country is playing host to the World Cup in 2014, so this year is crazy. The Copa do Brasil is underway currently and the championship later this month. ESPN also hosts all main international soccer leagues. European leagues for example are very popular on ESPN as some of the countries best players are, such as Neymar, are playing in European football leagues.

LR: How big is mobile and social media in Brazil? How important are they in a TV viewers experience?
Olivalves: Brazil behaviour is like North America although the relative numbers are lower than US, new technologies adoption speed and mobile penetration are incredible. A lot of people have mobile broadband connection but not a fixed broadband at their home. Smartphones spreading all over. A lot of people have tablets. These devices are in the living room and competing for attention while people are watching TV. In less than 1 week since the launch of ESPN Sync this app has become the number one sports app in the country and in the top 25 of all iPad apps in Brazil. These numbers indicate that TV, mobile, and tablets are great companions for ESPN viewers. Regarding social media Brazilians are early adopters always, its part of their behaviour to connect, to interact, the need to express themselves in public and participate, interact with everything they do and watch is mandatory. That’s why 2nd screen is so important in this scenario.

LR: Are you worried about viewers being distracted while watching sports by their mobile devices?
Olivalves: We know that 27 times per hour TV viewers are checking their mobile devices. We know that this behaviour is here to stay. ESPN decided to work with Mobovivo and major sponsors like Fiat to bring sports fans distractions that help them engage further with their favorite sports and teams.

LR: How does that app incorporate messaging from advertisers and sponsors?
Olivalves: ESPN Sync delivers social, behind the scenes, and gamification experiences with every game. Our sponsors show up in the App, on social media, and on TV. The coolest thing about the ESPN Sync app is that advertisers can sponsor engagement on mobile and get their brand on TV during the game as an overlay. ESPN Sync feeds data directly from viewers to TV through our control room.

LR: What about TV screens? Will users of ESPN Sync see results of their interactions on TV? During the game?
Olivalves: Yes, every time a viewer tweets or gives their opinion about the player of the game – even if the penalty call was good – those stats are gathered and presented to our TV team and hosts to bring the viewers opinions onto TV. Whenever the editorial team understands it is a relevant topic to open a discussion, they will bring this interactive result to the 1st screen as a starting point or to add value to what is being discussed.

LR: How do the videos featured in the app support the second screen experience? Is there any live video, replays, or Video on Demand content?
Olivalves: Video is important. Replays, ads, highlights, and previews are all used to get people excited about the upcoming live broadcast. Is in our roadmap to include live and exclusive content, for example, additional cameras to what TV is showing and even a different debate about the ongoing game, with different talents than on tv.

LR: Does ESPN have plans to integrate other sports into this app?
Olivalves: Stay tuned. Sports fans and sponsors are asking for a lot more from ESPN Sync. Brazilians love MMA, NFL, NBA and Tennis. We expect to expand real soon.

LR: With Brazil hosting the World Cup next year, and the Olympics the year after, this app has tremendous potential. What plans are in place to optimize this app for those events?
Olivalves: ESPN Sync will be part of our ad sales offering for our main sponsors and additional/segmented opportunities will be created to provide this benefit for other brands that would like to participate. This solution is meant to be part of our transmission, it’s not a stand alone app, it’s TV, interactive.