BBC, Eurosport Enter Mobile-Apps Market

Sports applications for mobile phones and other devices continue to appear, with the BBC and Eurosport the latest to tailor services for this market. The BBC is set to have live commentary and text services ready for the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android in time for this summer’s World Cup. British Eurosport and British Eurosport 2 coverage of the Vancouver Winter Olympics is available on the iPhone now.

Eurosport introduced a basic sports-news, live-scoring, and results service for iPhone last July. ESPN Radio for smartphones and Sky Sports’ live streaming to iPhones make for an already competitive market.

The BBC’s entry into the mobile arena raises the stakes considerably. The UK broadcaster’s plans were announced during the Mobile World Congress Feb. 15-18 in Barcelona. Erik Huggers, director of future media and technology for BBC, said the corporation is catching up with how its audiences are getting their information.

BBC News will be available for the iPhone and iPod Touch starting in April, with Blackberry and Google Android coming on stream later in the year. The BBC Sport app is scheduled for May both in the UK and internationally.

The 2010 World Cup will be the first event covered by this new service, with Formula 1 and other sports to be added later. BBC Sport for mobiles will feature commentary from BBC Radio 5 Live, as well as text commentaries and blogs by leading presenters. All apps are free of charge.

There is the possibility that the iPlayer will also be made available for mobile platforms, but the plans announced so far are a major commitment by the BBC. “It’s been 12 years since the launch of BBC Online, but, as media converges and technology accelerates, licence-fee payers are increasingly using sophisticated devices to access information,” says Huggers. “They tell us they want to access the digital services that they have paid for at a time and a place that suits them. We are putting technology to work to create greater public value.”

British Eurosport and British Eurosport 2 went live on the iPhone on Feb. 22, with full coverage from Vancouver. Later in the year, the channels’ viewers will be able to watch French Open tennis, the Tour de France, MotoGP, World Superbikes, British Superbikes, the World Touring Car Championships, and other major event on their mobiles.

The app allows users to watch live footage over 3G and WiFi connections. “Sport is the perfect genre to enjoy through this exciting functionality,” says Laurent-Eric Le Lay, chairman of the Eurosport Group. “It enables fans to watch their favourite sporting events wherever they are, ensuring they never miss a second of the action. This new application will further reinforce Eurosport’s presence in the online community, making the best sport entertainment more accessible than ever.”

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