Notable things: The WatchESPN app and the multi-screen buffet; you built the app, but will people use it? (probably not); the retirement of Fireman Ed

This was a big weekend for college football. It seemed like every channel — including all the flavors of ESPN — had a game, and many of them were worth watching. It’s the kind of weekend that destroys the “last” button on remotes.

Someone in ESPN’s marketing department came up with a clever solution to this abundance problem. Rather that catch a few plays on one game and flip over to another, you could watch a game on your television and monitor another game through the WatchESPN app on your tablet or phone. It’s picture-in-picture, only you’re holding the small screen in your hands.

ESPN pushed this set-up hard during the prime time Notre Dame vs USC game on Saturday (that game was on ABC, but ESPN and ABC are both owned by Disney so they do a weird “ESPN on ABC” co-branding thing for big games).

I’m not much of a college football fan — I think it’s a lightweight version of real football — but I was tempted to fire up the WatchESPN app on my iPad.

What’s more important is that ESPN planted the seed. I have a Slingbox, so I rely on that for most of my TV streaming. There are times, however, when the Slingbox-connected television is being used for other things (“Curious George” is in heavy rotation). The WatchESPN app never crossed my mind, but now it will.

The marketing worked, dammit.

Moreover, it’s only a matter of time before I take multi-screen viewing to its logical conclusion: one game on the TV, one on the iPad, and a laptop fired up to browse the web. My router better limber up.

(Somewhat related sidenote: I’d love to ditch cable as much as everyone else, but there’s no way that’s going to happen if I can’t watch live sports in high definition on my preferred devices. Until the sports blockade is disrupted, all this cable-cutting hoopla is just gobble, gobble turkey.)


Fred Wilson on why it’s no longer enough to build an app that people download:

you need to master the “download app, use app, keep using app, put it on your home screen” flow and that is a hard one to master. [Emphasis added.]

The home screen is a popular neighborhood and the dock is the best street in town.


Fireman Ed will no longer attend Jets games as Fireman Ed.

What does that transition entail, exactly? Ditch the helmet? Go jersey-free? Sit quietly during J-E-T-S chants?

Related: Deadspin has the final word on the Fireman Ed “retirement”

Conferences and custom mobile apps: Yup, that makes sense

Attendees at the LeWeb conference held earlier this month had an extra organizational tool at their disposal: a custom iPhone app. I cannot believe how much sense this makes. As app frameworks become more common, and development costs come down,…

Attendees at the LeWeb conference held earlier this month had an extra organizational tool at their disposal: a custom iPhone app.

I cannot believe how much sense this makes. As app frameworks become more common, and development costs come down, I can see a point in the next two years when conference apps move from novelty to must-have. Sort of like Wi-Fi (but hopefully more reliable).

And let’s not forget the sponsorship opportunities here, either. A smart sponsor could use the app to send a hyper-targeted message to a hyper-targeted audience. Toss in some sort of booth contest, and you’ve got the marketing equivalent of the Death Star’s tractor beam.