Fox Sports has released what it claims is a “completely redesigned” app for livestreaming games, real-time scores, breaking news and more — timed for the debut of Major League Baseball’s delayed 2020 season.
The app’s overhaul has been in the works for nearly two years, and Fox Sports decided to introduce the new version once sports leagues were ready to resume play after COVID-19 suspensions, said David Katz, EVP and head of digital. The relaunch comes ahead of Fox’s first-ever quadruple MLB header Saturday, July 25.
Katz, a longtime digital media exec who joined Fox Sports two years ago, said that after he started with the company he had “some strong conversations with my bosses about where we were as a product in the sports space and where we’d like to go.” His team conducted research about what sports fans wanted to determine “pain points with existing sites and apps, including ours.”
“I was not interested in putting a new paint coat on the house,” he said. “We felt this was a unique opportunity for the world today in terms of how people consume media.”
One thing that isn’t different: To watch live games in the Fox Sports app, users must be subscribed to an affiliated pay-TV provider.
New features include the Snapchat-like “Stories,” which melds together photos, videos, articles and social media posts; a patent-pending “bonus cam,” to let fan access alternate camera feeds during live events; and improved personalization features giving users the ability to select their favorite league, team and player content.
Another prominent new feature: real-time wagering odds, powered by Fox Bet Sportsbook, which are now woven throughout the app, as Fox Sports is eyeing a bigger revenue stream from online gambling in the U.S.
“We are incredibly bullish on wagering both as an independent business as well as what it will do to boost engagement for the Fox Sports app,” said Katz, noting that fantasy sports also fuels engagement with the product.
The updated Fox Sports app is available on iOS and Android mobile, with elements of the redesign carrying over into foxsports.com. The connected-TV apps for platforms like Roku and Apple TV, however, remain unchanged.
Here’s a breakdown of key new features in the Fox sports app and website redesign:
- Stories: Users swipe into the most important topics of the day, curated with multimedia and analysis, presented with “almost a magazine feel,” said Katz. “We took some cues from dating apps… We are not trying to do news articles in the traditional sense. We view ‘Stories’ as topic-driven, and we are choosing topics we think are multidimensional and compelling, not necessarily just ‘The Redskins are changing their name.’”
- Simpler Access to Scores: The new design simplifies access to scores and schedules, according to Katz. Date, time and broadcast network are featured alongside key gambling odds info (spread, money line, total) provided by Fox Bet. “This is table stakes,” Katz said. He added, “It’s about making it a daily routine, so users watch our livestreams,” where Fox Sports digital generates the bulk of its revenue today.
- Live TV Horizontal Mode: Every Fox Sports game and studio show is available to pay-TV subscribers with the tap of a button. Users can now opt for a full-screen horizontal look or flip into vertical mode to get real-time stats, projections, highlights, social feeds and more.
- Bonus Cams: For select games and events, the app now includes the option for fans to watch the live telecast while choosing between secondary video feeds for different perspectives or alternate audio feeds with different live commentary or in-game chatter (for example, you could listen to a QB whose helmet is mic’d up).
Fox Sports is part of Fox Corp., which owns Fox TV stations, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network after 21st Century Fox was dissolved last year with the sale of major assets to Disney. Fox Sports comprises the sports arm of the Fox Network and cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes.
Fox Sports’ portfolio also includes its parent company’s interests in joint ventures including the Big Ten Network and Fox Bet Sportsbook, a betting platform in partnership with the Stars Group; the Fox Bet Super 6 free-to-play game; and live sports, esports and entertainment producer Caffeine Studios, jointly owned with social broadcasting platform Caffeine.