Polar Mobile Apps Bring Players to the Fans

For the past several seasons, fans finding themselves away from a television during a crucial game haven’t had to sneak away to a find a screen, call a sports line for scores, or rely on postgame highlights to keep track of their team. Now they just need a smartphone. Not only has the popularity of smartphones skyrocketed — doubling in the past year, according to a recent Pew Research Center study — but so has the availability of in-game content.

The NHL, NFL, and MLB, among others, offer mobile apps that deliver live video, stats, and scores directly to smart devices, connecting fans to the game wherever they are.

Polar Mobile, looking to enhance the fan connection beyond the game itself, has signed a pair of three-year licensing agreements with the NFL Players Association and MLB Players Association to develop a series of mobile apps that connect fans with their favorite individual players.

“When you think of the success the leagues have had in digital platforms in distributing their content, all the attention is focused on the game,” says Polar Mobile CEO Kunal Gupta. “What we’re looking to do here is connect fans directly with players, irrespective of the game.”

Founded in 2007, Polar Mobile powers more than 1,000 mobile apps for more than 300 media companies in 10 countries, including Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, Pro Football Weekly, The Hockey News, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canadian Football League, and Rogers Sports Net.

The first set of NFLPA and MLBPA apps will enable users to follow the Twitter feeds of their favorite players. The app aggregates the tweets of players active on the social-media site, delivering the feed in real time to smartphones and tablets, including iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, iPad, and PlayBook. The NFLPA and MLBPA apps are scheduled to launch this month.

After signing a similar deal with the NHL Players Association in December and subsequently launching the social-tracker app, Gupta reported extremely positive feedback.

“From our experience with the NHLPA apps, the traffic is ridiculously high,” he says.  “Fans are obsessed with the players.”

The Toronto-based application developer is also developing a PhotoBook app for tablets, scheduled to launch in time for the NFL season. Fans will be able to follow news and stories about their favorite players through photos.  Polar Mobile intends to take advantage of the tablet’s larger screen while making the app interactive, social, and dynamic in real time.

Although the NFLPA and MLBPA apps may include video content in the future, Polar Mobile’s current focus is on creating a great user experience for all types of content on all devices.

“Whether it’s a tweet, blog, article, or photo, we’re focused on bringing the players to life versus the actual game,” Gupta says. “The players associations were the perfect partners for us to work with to try and fill that gap.”


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