When away from home, it’s sometimes challenging to catch up on sports news. Sure, there are apps that provide basic scores and statistics for games and matches, but it’s a rarity to find an app that shows highlights and other forms of media. Whether it’s the decision on LeBron’s future or the Argentina vs Netherlands penalty kicks, video sports commentary is harder to find.
Enter 120 Sports, an app developed by the Sports Illustrated network, popular for the magazine of the same name. The app is essentially a collection of video coverage of the latest sports trends, but with a few added twists. I used the app for a while and here’s what I found…
The app’s design is quite straightforward: there are widescreen pictures with text overlays that explain the topic. Instead of multiple columns or words under the pictures, however, it is simply a continuous scroll of these rectangular boxes. This design element really keeps the app from being overly confusing or distracting (after some use). Although the simplicity of the UI would be enough to help the app stand out, what separates it from the pack is its video production.
Throughout the day, 120 Sports produces a live show that can be tuned into through the app. In addition, different segments are uploaded to the app in order to keep the user up-to-date on the latest news. Upon clicking on the previously mentioned boxes, this is what users will see, along with a tweet or two that relates to the story.
The videos take a modern approach in the graphics and animations, which keeps the production feeling smooth and interesting. Often, graphics sport a flat design, and the look really fits in well with the rest of iOS 7. If Jony Ive designed a sports show, this is what it would look like.
Of course, all of this wonderful design would be wasted if 120 Sports was lacking in content. Luckily for us, this isn’t the case. All of the major sports are covered, with the biggest headlines from each making it into the app. Every story has a video that is tailored specifically to the topic, explaining and developing the story as much as possible. The videos are long enough to be interesting and informative, yet short enough to watch quickly while at work or on the bus.
If reading the latest headlines doesn’t meet your needs, 120 Sports allows users to search for a specific athlete, sport, event, etc. and follow said topic. This helps the reader find exactly what he or she may be looking for and really makes the app customizable. In a way, think of it as Feedly for the sports world, self-curated. While one cannot pick different sources to read from, he or she can decide what to hear about.
Despite not having the team of a larger production company, 120 Sports manages the difficult task of keeping all of their stories up-to-date and current. The reporting is often done by two or three people and then discussed, often in a laid back style that is appealing to listen to. If, however, you are looking for a breaking news broadcast, you may not find what you are searching for.
The app has a fantastic design that keeps usability simple and clean. Broadcasts done by 120 Sports are both entertaining and fresh, with casual reporting that is accurate and reliable. 120 Sports covers a wide range of topics, all of which are relevant and to the point.
120 Sports also displays tweets from various Twitter users that relate to the topic. This helps the user get more of a context and also provides a little bit of entertainment value.
The app really doesn’t incorporate actual written reporting, which limits the whole experience to an audiovisual perspective. Without this feature, catching up on the go or in a quiet place is almost impossible. While this doesn’t void the app of its value, some people may be turned off by the idea of having to watch videos to get access to all content. I sometimes found myself becoming annoyed at not being able to simply read.
At first use, the app can be a little confusing, as it offers no indication of what to do. There is no logging in, no tutorial, and no explanation of the key features within the app. For someone like me who did a quick glance over the app review and downloaded the app in a spur-of-the-moment decision, I was left scratching my head for a few moments. With that being said, I did adjust quickly.
The app is free, so if you’re a sports fan, there’s really no reason not to try it out. All of the content is free and available at all times (except when offline, of course). There are no in-app purchases or additional fees, a plus for everyone.
120 Sports is very well-developed, even in its infancy, and the ceiling is still high. There are, however, some fronts to improve on, including text stories and a more explanatory UX. In the end, what we will have to see is how the developers decide to expand the app and how well it keeps up the video production and reporting. If 120 Sports can market itself into mainstream use, we may see a contender in the sports app space. Download the app for iPad and iPhone in the App Store.
If you’ve spent any time in the App Store, you probably know there are quite a few sports apps. For example, apps like ESPN SportsCenter, Yahoo Sports, and WatchESPN are similar, but it must be noted that all of these apps offer slightly different functionalities. SportsCenter and Yahoo Sports incorporate live scores, while WatchESPN and 120 Sports are more based on video.