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Inside the new SportsCenter app: Maximizing the mobile experience

Images of the new SportsCenter app, launching today.
Images of the new SportsCenter app, launching today.

ESPN Digital Media launched an all-new SportsCenter app today for both iOS and Android smartphones. If you currently have the ESPN ScoreCenter app – and odds are you do, since it’s been downloaded to more than 43 million devices – you’ll receive the new SportsCenter app as an update to ScoreCenter.

We asked ESPN’s Senior Vice President of Digital Product Development Ryan Spoon to give us some insight behind the creation of the app and how it will serve sports fans anytime, anywhere.

ScoreCenter is the No. 1 sports app of all time. Why replace it?
I don’t think we set out to replace ScoreCenter – we set out to grow it. ScoreCenter is indeed the most popular sports application, and we know fans enjoy it because it has strong ratings in the iOS and Android app stores. It provides the best experience for accessing scores, but that’s just a portion of the content mix that makes ESPN so special. Our new SportsCenter app combines scores with video, articles, analysis, imagery, social activity and more.

We begin the product development experience by asking, “What can we create that is only doable here at ESPN?” Through the content, interface, personalization and a lot of teamwork, the SportsCenter application achieves that.

It’s also worth noting that September marked a milestone for ESPN Digital. During a month of record traffic, more fans accessed ESPN via mobile than desktop. The SportsCenter app is truly a mobile-first creation, and in a world that is increasingly mobile, it should delight sports fans.

ESPN had 45 apps just one year ago. Now it has 14. How far can you take this “less is more” approach?
Less is more. It’s a simple, obvious mantra that applies to each Digital product and to our overall portfolio. The best products spend more time reducing and simplifying than adding. The same can be said for our collection of products.

A peek at the Duke Football Clubhouse page.
A peek at the Duke Football Clubhouse page.

Much of the last year was spent focusing our offering into the core fan experiences: content, scores, fantasy games, video and audio. We need to deliver world-class experiences around those offerings, and I believe we are well on our way. But to do so, we have to focus our attention and resources, and we need to make sure the work continues well after launch. These are iterative processes: We will observe how fans interact with it, listen to input, iterate on the product and content, and repeat.

If you had to choose the most important feature of the new SportsCenter app, what would it be?
I believe the most important feature is the Clubhouse. Users are now able to access – and favor – clubhouses for any team. These are powerful, new pages in that they houses a team’s scores, news and videos, as well as social content.

It’s an example of two important things: First, it’s an experience that only ESPN can create. The screenshot [at right], for instance, is the Duke Football Clubhouse, and it houses in-game highlights seconds after they occur on the field. It’s tremendous. When the game is over, I can access news, analysis, video footage and more.

Second, it showcases the power of personalization and the great experiences we can build specifically for each user. Of course, the masses won’t want to access the Duke Football Clubhouse, but we make it front and center for me. It’s a great user experience and great reward for personalizing ESPN.

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