It’s Early Spring – that time of year where sports are heating up, just like the temperatures! NCAA is in full stride, Baseball is about to begin, and the pro basketball and hockey seasons are in full swing.
Whether your favorite sport is football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, golf, or tennis you want to keep track of the action! With a modern smartphone like iPhone or Galaxy S III, it’s just a matter of knowing which apps are best, and grabbing them from Apple App Store or Google Play. So let the games begin!
General Purpose Apps
If you’re a fan of more than one sport, what you need is an app that can keep you up to date on scores and news from around the sports world. Here are a few from the biggest names in the sports world.
ESPN ScoreCenter (iOS | Android) from the network that brands itself as the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.” The name is a take on the SportsCenter news program. This is the best sports news app out there, though it can be rather overcomplicated and theatrical at times. It offers easy access to scores, standings, and headlines of most major American sports. It even offers access to short SportsCenter News segments. Choosing your teams is easy and today’s games become your start screen. And to cap things off, the alert tone is the famous SportCenter sound.
What CBS Sports (iOS | Android) lacks in flair, it makes up for in features and ease of use. It’s the quintessential function over form. Getting news for all major sports and collegiate football and men’s basketball is super easy. Fans of NASCAR, Formula 1, and the various international association football (aka soccer) leagues will find news for them as well. There’s even tabs for special events like the NCAA March Madness. Most useful is a tab for currently live games. This is very basic, but it does have most of the features of ESPN’s app.
Fox Sports Mobile
Splitting the difference between the two is Fox Sports Mobile (iOS | Android). It’s not as straight forward as CBS, and not as flashy as ESPN. But it will give the TV information for most games, and if you have a local Fox Sports Affiliate, you’ll have access to local sports news.
If you’re looking for just news, check out Bleacher Report’s Team Stream mobile app (iOS | Android). They offer the best collection of news stories from all over the sports world. Whichever one you chose, you’ll have access to full access to sports scores and news wherever you can get a signal.
The general purpose apps are very general. If you want to go more in depth, look at your team’s specific app. Most professional and Division I NCAA sports teams will have either an official or unofficial app or there will be a locally-focused app. Two examples I use are the University of Iowa App and Comcast Sports Net Chicago’s App.
Comcast Sports Net Chicago
Comcast Sports Net Chicago (iOS | Android) is similar to the general purpose sports apps above, but focuses on coverage of the Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks. Like the cable network, what the CSN-C app lacks in broad focus, it makes up with in-depth coverage for the teams you actually want to hear about. Similar apps exist for most regional sports networks, except for those owned by Fox. On Android, all the Comcast networks are lumped into a single app.
Iowa Hawkeyes Sports
The other one I use is the Iowa Hawkeyes Sports App (iOS | Android) done by CBS Sports in conjunction with the U of I. This application gives you news and scores from not just the Men’s Football and Basketball team, but all men’s and women’s teams. CBS has similar apps for 58 other NCAA Division I programs, and similar apps exist for most D-I schools as well as most pro teams.
Live streaming of games, both video and audio is generally controlled by the league. Most major and collegiate leagues as well as some of the major networks have their own apps. I’ll give you the rundown of a few of them here.
MLB At Bat
MLB at Bat (iOS | Android) gives you access to TV and radio for all 30 Major League Baseball Teams as well as stats, news, and even classic games. These are paid services and you have two options for subscriptions. The first option of $19.99 per year or $2.99 per month will give you access to the radio broadcasts. The second option is an MLB.TV premium account, which will provide access to all MLB games on your phone and any other devices, such as your tablet, and even set top box for $129.99 per year. The downside is that there really aren’t team specific packages, so you’re getting the other 29 teams whether you want them or not.
NFL Sunday Ticket
For NFL fans there is an equivalent app, NFL Sunday Ticket (iOS | Android). However, there is a major catch. The NFL has an exclusive contract for out-of-market games with satellite provider DirecTV. In order to use this app, you must not only have DirecTV service, but subscribe to the $299 NFL Ticket MAX package. If you do all that, you have access to every NFL game out there.
NBA Game Time
The NBA has its NBA Game Time (iOS | Android), giving access to NBA League Pass. However, if a game is on television in its home market, or is nationally televised, it is blacked out from the service.
The NHL likewise has its NHL GameCenter app (iOS | Android). Restrictions are pretty similar to the NBA’s Game Time app. However, if you’re a fan outside your home area, you can get the Blackhawks games on your iPhone or Android device.
For those who want to watch games for free…ish, there’s Watch ESPN (iOS | Android). The good news is that you’ll have access to live games from ESPN on ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, and online-only games through ESPN 3. The bad news, certain sports are blacked out and exactly what you get depends on your service provider. The reason it’s “free-ish” is because while it’s at no extra expense to you, Watch ESPN requires you subscribe to cable or satellite and enter your credentials.
Over the last decade, fantasy sports have exploded. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s not elves and orcs facing off in a football match or a Quidditch league. Fantasy sports gives a sports fan the role of a general manager of a fictional sports franchise. That sports franchise is made up of real world players. Participants whose players do well in their real world games win points. Participants must pay attention to real world stats to choose the best players for that particular game. What leagues you’re in and who hosts them usually depends on your friends and co-workers. Most are available in app form.
ESPN Fantasy Apps
ESPN offers their fantasy leagues in football (iOS | Android), baseball (iOS | Android), and basketball (iOS). The apps offer not only management of your league(s) and ESPN’s fantasy message boards, but also fantasy news and analytics with the full power of ESPN behind them.
CBS Sports Fantasy Apps
CBS Sports also has a large fantasy operation. That being said, the only sports they offer in app form are football (iOS | Android) and baseball (iOS | Android). Like their general sports app, they are fairly plain, but offer full management and stats.
While Yahoo has no sports news division behind it like ESPN or CBS Sports, they were there on fantasy sports from the beginning. In addition to football (iOS | Android), baseball (iOS | Android), and basketball (iOS | Android), they also add hockey (iOS | Android).
These are just a few examples of the many apps available to sports addicts on your iOS or Android smartphone. That should get you started discovering the wealth of sports info you can get anytime or anywhere. Have a favorite sports app to share? Let us know about it in the comments below. Now, play ball!