September 08, 2009

College Football's Debut Makes ESPN ScoreCenter an iPhone Must

This last weekend marked the beginning of the college football season at universities across the country. My Cal Bears managed to wallop the visiting Maryland Terrapins by a 52-13 margin, avenging last year's ugly loss at College Park. As I couldn't watch the game, traveling to Southern California, I kept tabs, using my iPhone, by using ESPN's ScoreCenter, a low-frills app from the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in Sports" designed to get me the data I want quickly - with a clear focus on real-time game results, instead the more fluffy features you can find with just about any sports media.

ESPN ScoreCenter on the iPhone: Scores from Any League

ESPN has a long history of experimenting with its Web site - being among the first to embrace Java in the mid-1990s, and streaming video earlier this decade. (See also: Launches New Beta Site, Reduces Ads, Integrates Video from December 2008) It has similarly moved its tech leadership to the mobile Web, with a dedicated site for old-school cell phones and the iPhone, including fun games, like ESPN Cameraman, and ScoreCenter - a cute play on its famous franchise, SportsCenter.

ScoreCenter, like the ESPN Web site, separates out the day's scores by sport. MLB is separate from the NBA, which is separate from College Football, the NFL and so on. But what displays on your iPhone is up to your own preferences. You pick the sports you want updates from, and you pick your favorite teams. You can even select which sports appear first when you open the application, and you never have to see updates from sports you don't care about. These selections are helpfully titled "mySports" and "myTeams", as part of the company's My ESPN push.

Drilling Down on Top Teams' Games on ScoreCenter

Sports already plays a big role on my iPhone. There are dedicated applications out there for MLB, NFL scores or College Football scores, each of which I've previously covered. And yes, you can get updates on sports news from many media apps. But ESPN's ScoreCenter gives me a customized cut of all the information, providing me the top level answer I need in terms of current scores from all my leagues, and with a few clicks, I can see the boxscores or even live gameday action. And for those of us raised on the ESPN franchise through TV, you should be happy to see they even have the familiar "Bottom Line" bringing headlines from around the sports world.

ScoreCenter, Customized For Me, Also Goes Deep Into Data

The app is a welcome alternative to other non-custom apps that give me way too much information about things I don't care about. With college football kicking off last weekend, I know I'll be checking in to ESPN's ScoreCenter to see what every team in the Pac-10 conference is doing, or browsing the Top 25, and getting updates on every game as they roll from East to West. The application, supported by ads, which display alongside the scores, is free. Find it here.