By Peter Schwartz
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Watching a sports event on television is a lot different today that it was years ago. There was a time when you just sat on your couch, watched the game and that was it.
But this is 2014, and I’m as guilty as anyone of having technology at my fingertips when watching the game. Let’s face it: There’s not many people left that can watch a game without a cell phone or tablet in their hands. Mobile devices can be used to keep up with stats, check out-of-town scores or see what else is going on in the world.
Some people even use their cell phone as a phone!
But now you can use your mobile device to play an interactive game that is connected to the game that you’re watching on television.
OneUp Sports has developed “Connect,” an app that has changed the way sports fans watch games on television. What they’ve done is revolutionize the “second screen” experience.
“The product we invented essentially delivers a unique game board to every player,” said Daren Trousdell, the Founder and CEO of OneUp Sports. “On that game board, there are 16 events — half are game related and half are player related.”
Take “MLB Connect,” for example. There are game-related events such as a triple or a home run, or player-related events like a Derek Jeter single or Zack Wheeler strikeout.
Trousdell started the company at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. His vision was to make watching the game on television more fun, so he kicked around a few ideas. What he landed on was a version of “baseball bingo,” but with an added fantasy twist as well as an interactive element.
“The objective is to get four of these game events in a row before anyone else,” said Trousdell. “That would constitute a ‘connect,’ or as some people call it, bingo. When that happens, you get a value for each tile in your bingo or connect. You build your points, you’re on the leaderboard and you’re competing against everyone. And hopefully you take home the game for the night.”
Here’s how it works. Fans can download the app for free and play for free. To start, you’re given a bunch of free tokens and you use them to make game moves. If you run out, the game model allows you to purchase more tokens. But if you master the game, you probably won’t have to ever shell out a dime.
“Basically you don’t have to buy anything,” said Trousdell. “You play for free and if you’re an excellent player, you’ll never really have to buy anything. You just win your way to the top.”
As many as 30,000 or 40,000 fans are playing along during any one baseball game. The beauty of the app is that it’s geared to a wide range of fans. You can be a serious gamer and try to beat the other players or you can sit back and play a more relaxed game.
“People love it,” said Trousdell. “It accomplishes a couple of things that I don’t think anything else in the marketplace does. Number one, it can be played as intense as you want to play it. Or it can be more of a passive, laid-back experience.”
The initial app was simply called “Baseball Connect,” and now it has blossomed into “MLB Connect” as OneUp has partnered with Major League Baseball. While baseball is the focus this time of year, the company also has partnerships with the NFL, NBA, NHL, PGA Tour and NASCAR.
Trousdell’s idea has exploded into a phenomenon.
“We took it, we grew it and we now have millions of people playing it,” said Trousdell. “This year, our baseball product is doing really well. Now we’re getting geared up for football.”
“NFL Connect” game days typically get into the six-figure range. But many of those users aren’t just watching the game at home. There are also many fans who are using the app while they are at the game.
“We have a lot of people playing at the stadiums that support it,” said Trousdell. “That’s one of the bigger growing aspects of our business.”
Another big part of the business is soccer, as OneUp has a popular soccer app called “My Football Connect” as well as agreements with seven teams in the United Kingdom, including Manchester City. Aside from the “Connect” apps, OneUp has also developed mobile partnerships with professional sports franchises including the Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Not every game we watch on television or attend in person can be exciting or have a lot on the line. While fantasy players will always have an interest in a game whether the game itself is important or not, the connect apps from OneUp can keep all fans glued to the action.
To learn more about the apps, visit OneUp Sports’ website at www.1up.fm.
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