Mobile Gives Bleacher Report Fans a Content-to-Court Experience

Mobile is a key player for many brands. But for sports media company Bleacher Report, it’s the MVP.

“When we think about our product roadmap, what features to roll out, and where to invest, mobile is at the top of the priority list and has been for some time to be honest,” says Alex Vargas, the company’s VP of business operations. “It’s our core business. That’s true from a technology perspective, from a content perspective, [and] from a monetization and sales standpoint. It permeates everything that we do.”

The brand’s numbers tell the same story. Vargas says Bleacher Report is the second largest digital sports property in United States, and 70 to 80% of its audience engages on mobile; plus, the brand’s app, Team Stream, has more than 10 million installs.

Ads are Bleacher Report’s prime source of revenue. Given the brand’s scale, Vargas wanted to find new income streams without sacrificing the company’s content experience. So in June the brand started testing an app-to-app integration that allows fans to buy tickets to see the games of their favorite sports teams—all through a mobile ticket marketplace called Gametime.

Here’s how the integration works: When fans download the Team Stream app, they can choose what kind of content they want to follow, such as NFL highlights or updates about a specific team. Based on these preferences, fans can read content personalized to their interests on the app’s home screen or on a team’s specific feed.

So, a New Orleans Saints fan can opt to follow the Saints’ feed to access scores, schedules, standings, tweets, and articles from Bleacher Report and other sports media sources.  Fans can then click on a Gametime promotion to buy tickets for an upcoming game.

If fans don’t have the Gametime app, they’ll be directed to the app store where they can download it. The caveat, however, is that they’ll have to search for their desired games to buy tickets. But if fans do have the app, then they’ll be sent to the ticket purchasing section within Gametime’s app where they can see real-time inventory. Fans will even be able to see the view they’d have with those selected seats.

Besides driving ad revenue and engagement within the app, the integration, according to Vargas, serves as an “organic fit.”

“If you’re an Oakland Raiders fan, and you’re in Team Stream looking at preview content—the Oakland Raiders playing the Baltimore Ravens—there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to be interested in going to the game,” he says.

The integration provides Bleacher Report with a trove of data,  including conversion metrics, information on purchased tickets, and info on the effectiveness of a promotion.

The app-to-app integration provides Gametime with direct marketing benefits too. In fact Colin Evans, chief revenue officer of Gametime and cofounder of ticket marketplace StubHub, says that Gametime uses geolocation to send push notifications. So a fan might receive a weather update or promotion for an upcoming Dodgers game when he walks within a certain proximity of the stadium, he says.

Evans adds that the company also leverages SMS, i.e. text messages, and emails to send price alerts. Plus, if fans purchase multiple tickets for an event, they can share them with their fellow attendees through email or SMS—even if the others don’t have the Gametime app.

“When you have a company that is aligned in the same way that you are with the same end goals of reaching sports fans and providing a great service [and] great content to those fans, it gives you the ability to do really interesting, contextual partnership integrations with them,” Evans says.

Since testing the integration—which officially went live in September—Bleacher Report has surpassed its metric goals for Team Stream app engagement and conversion, Vargas says. “We’re exceeding expectations based on our original estimates and some of the testing that we did,” he notes. In fact, Evans says that Gametime saw a three-time jump in app installs from July to August.

Bottom line: Mobile is one player that marketers should never bench.

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