Raycom Sports, ACC Jumpstart Partnership With Official iPhone App

Raycom Sports and the Atlantic Coast Conference will enter a new digital partnership at the beginning of next season, but neither party wanted to wait that long to begin reaching fans through the Apple iPhone. Six months ago, the two parties began designing an application, and, on Sept. 16, Raycom Sports and the ACC released the official ACC iPhone app. It will offer live streams of selected Raycom-produced football and basketball games as well as game stats, scoring summaries, breaking news, and video-on-demand clips from both the Raycom Sports archives and the ACC.

“For Raycom Sports and the ACC, this was our first early step towards creating new products under our digital partnership,” says Colin Smith, VP of new media and distribution for Raycom Sports. “It was truly a collaborative effort.”

Partners With Experience
After Raycom and the ACC decided what features they wanted the app to include, Raycom approached Silver Chalice, which had done work with parent company Raycom Media, to manage and build the application.

“They have lots of experience creating apps for sports franchises, and they brought Underground Labs to us as the development team for the app,” Smith says. “Underground Labs is run by one of the co-founders of MobiTV, so they brought a lot of great insight to the project.”

Raycom completed a few rounds of back-and-forth with Silver Chalice in perfecting the navigation of the application.

“That’s so important, being able to find what you’re looking for quickly and not having too many click-throughs,” Smith says. “That was our first concern: building the scrolling bar at the top and the secondary bar underneath it. After that, it was just a matter of getting them the content that they needed to complete the build.”

Live on the iPhone
The best feature of the application, Smith says, is its live-streaming capabilities. The app, priced at $1.99, will provide access to live streams of selected football and basketball syndicated telecasts from Raycom Sports.

“That’s about 12 football games and 35-45 basketball games right now. But the plan is to get every Raycom sports broadcast up and running through the app,” Smith says. “There’s really no rhyme or reason to the selection of those first games, and we’re going to try to get them all up.”

NASCAR Media Group, located just down the street from Raycom’s Charlotte, NC, office, will coordinate all the live streaming for the application. It will downlink all the Raycom Sports broadcasts, encode the feed, and push it out for live streaming, per Apple’s specifications.

“The biggest challenge of creating this application was meeting all of Apple’s new standards and specs,” Smith explains. “We thought the approval process would be quick and easy, but we had to make a lot of changes to meet the specific requests of Apple. It was certainly a challenge to have what we wanted to do mesh with their requirements, but some of the things that they asked us to do ultimately will help the application. It was a learning process that was beneficial for the application.”

Working With ACC for VOD
In addition to live streams, the app will offer game tracking with live stats, scoring summaries, and play-by-play updates and alerts. Those features will be available for all ACC football and basketball games, not just Raycom broadcasts. The app also features all the latest polls, breaking news, and the ability to customize the app to any team in the conference.

“We are also going to be providing a lot of video-on-demand,” Smith adds. “That is going to come from the Raycom archives as well as the ACC weekly releases. They do a week in review, players of the week, and upcoming matchup previews that will be available on the app.”

Game-day highlights and team previews will also be available on demand.

Today, iPhone; Tomorrow, iPad
The application was designed for use on the iPhone and iPod Touch. It will run on the iPad, but Smith expects to do an iPad-optimized release of the product within the next six months.

“This is just the first release,” Smith says. “We have some new features that are waiting in the wings for the fans, so we’re excited to continue to build on it.”

Sponsored by Havoline, the official motor oil of the ACC, the application is available today in the Apple app store for $1.99. For more information, visit theACC.com or search for “ACC” in the iTunes app store to download the application.

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