Carrying the live stream of Fox’s coverage of this Sunday’s Daytona 500 won’t be a first for Fox Sports GO, but the programmer hopes the app's second go-round for the big race will steer in an even larger group of fans than it did last year.
Expectations are higher this year because more MVPDs now have TV Everywhere rights with Fox (the Fox Sports GO app is now available to about 60 million pay-TV homes), and the app itself is now offered on many more devices than it was at this time last year.
Update: DirecTV recently launched Fox Sports GO, which pushed the app's total distribution to 80 milion homes.
“We have a much bigger audience that we’re going to be exposing this to,” Clark Pierce, senior vice president, mobile and advanced platforms for Fox Sports, said.
MVPD integrations with Fox Sports GO up since last year’s big race, but this year’s Daytona 500 will be the first in which the app is available on the popular Android platform for smartphones and tablets.
Fox Sports GO is also offered on iOS and Amazon Fire tablets and smartphones, select Windows devices, on the Web at FoxSportsGo.com, and, as of earlier this month, on the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Fox launched the app in October 2013.
“I’m excited to see how we do with multiplatform distribution…and being on multiple operating systems,” Pierce said.
As for the racing event itself, Pierce said Fox Sports GO will supplement the main live stream with other elements, including alternative video feeds originating from a number of in-car cameras.
While getting more MVPDs on board and more devices supported helps adoption, getting the word out still remains a huge key.
“A big thing for us is awareness right now…awareness of the product and awareness of the value that users get,” said Pierce, who sees TVE as an additive piece of the pay-TV ecosystem. Fox Networks, by the way, has been seeking out ways to build awareness for its TVE offerings, including a “Stream It and Dream It Sweepstakes" that ran its course last November.
Fox Sports GO, he said, is getting some sizable usage from its coverage of NBA games. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
Following a “living experiment” last year that was limited to a small number of markets and MVPD partners, the app’s in-market streaming for the current NBA season was rolled out with all of Fox’s 17 NBA team partners.
That in-market streaming capability represents one of the special challenges Fox Sports GO had to resolve behind the scenes and under the hood. The complexity of the app was amplified by the fact that it had to support 205 Fox affiliates, 22 regional sports and about a half dozen national cable channels.
Under the app’s technical and operational model, Fox affiliates maintain jurisdiction of their advertising inventories. “They control it like they do with [traditional] linear TV,” the Fox Sports exec sad, noting that it’s their job to upload their own ads and promos.
From a broader perspective, “it’s a lot of channels, it’s a lot of content and it’s a lot of juggling,” Pierce explained. “Fox Sports GO is really a different product than other TV Everywhere apps.”
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