Nine features of successful sports apps


by Editorial Staff

In a crowded market, how can you make sure your sports app stands out? Read on for nine of the features that will leave fans coming back time and time again


by Editorial Staff

In a crowded market, how can you make sure your sports app stands out? Read on for nine of the features that will leave fans coming back time and time again

What’s the difference between an app that captures your fans’ attention and one that flops? With the number of mobile app downloads increasing – from 178 billion app downloads in 2017 to 204 billion in 2019, it’s clear the opportunity is there to get your fans’ eyes on your content.

But with so many in the market – and with sports apps being the second-fastest growing app category – how can you make sure yours doesn’t just sit there gathering dust in the app store? Read on for nine features to ensure your fans come back time and time again.

#1. User profile

Creating a profile gives your users an identity on the platform and provides them with a digital face to explore their passion within the community. In the sports world, giving a fan the option to have a profile also opens the door to taking part in live chats around events or connecting with friends on the platform.

Think about streaming service, Twitch, for example, where fans set up their profiles to not only watch and broadcast live streaming, but also share their own views and commentary with the community.

#2. Newsfeed

Ensuring users return will also be down to keeping the content fresh via a newsfeed. Enabling them to follow, favorite, or bookmark players and teams is one tactic to ensure content remains relevant.

The LIVE BLOGGING module within our publishing platform, FORGE, can help with this. LIVE BLOGGING is a real-time blogging tool that gives editors the ability to deliver text, photos, and videos in an interactive and engaging content stream while on-the-go. Step this way to find out the benefits it will bring to your business.

Creating a useful, dynamic newsfeed is especially important given the growth in ‘second screening’. Research in our white paper, A New Digital Decade – The Evolution of the US Sports Fan, found that although more than 70% of fans cite having a TV as ‘critical’ when following a live game or match, one in every three consumers use two or more devices simultaneously when watching live sports events.

#3. Data feeds

No sports app would be complete without real-time data. Keeping fans on top of every kick, swing and point is one of the best ways to keep coming back to your owned and operated platforms.

You can look to the European Tour website for an example of best practice. It’s simple to navigate and the ‘European Tour Statistics’ section offers fans a stats overview, a page dedicated to facts and figures, records and achievements, and a career money list.

#4. Push notifications

The world of sport moves quickly. Using push notifications can help to ensure your fans don’t miss a moment by keeping them updated with news as it happens. It gives them a reminder plus a simple gateway to return.

However, it’s important to get push notifications right – using them too often or not allowing people to pick their preferences is a sure-fire way to lose users. For example, think about Europe-based NFL fans, where games are played at 3am their time. Many will want to watch the game later, enjoying it as if it were live – and so will want to avoid being greeted by a “Patriots Win!” notification as soon as they wake up.

To avoid situations like this, push notifications should be there to inform and alert fans, but not spoil a game.

#5. Offline mode

Anything you can do to make fans’ lives easier will increase the likelihood of their return. Where possible, making some product functions possible when users aren’t connected to the internet will help to feed their hunger for sports content even during periods of internet downtime.

Think about the Pocket app, for example, that enables users to create a reading list of articles and videos from the internet that can be read later when offline. In a sporting context, whether it’s catching up on the day’s newsfeed or seeing player stats, enabling people to catch up whenever they want will help to grow your potential pool of users.


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#6. Search

Time is short. Your users will want to find what they’re looking for – fast. Help them search for stats, players, games, etc within a couple of taps. There are plenty of options at your fingertips for building the perfect search bar for your app, such as:

  • Simple search: where users can type their query to receive relevant results.
  • Filtered search: a good option if you have lots of content for users to trawl through as it uses filters to reduce possible search terms. For example, when they tap the search bar, they could find stadiums ‘near you’ or merchandise below a pre-defined monetary value.
  • Predictive search: a search bar that utilizes autocomplete, i.e. think about when you can see suggested searches underneath where you’re typing while on google.
  • Limited search: to help users get where they want quickly, this option restricts what users can search for by offering relevant categories or sections, i.e. ‘team info’, ‘fixtures’ and ‘ticket sales.’

#7. Social media integration

Social media integration will enable fans to be... well, social! Whether it’s sharing opinions on recent games and players or sharing their own achievements, giving your fans the ability to easily share content across their social networks opens more opportunities for new audiences to discover your content.

#8. Payment integration

By incorporating the native mechanisms Apple Pay/Google Pay, for example, you allow users to purchase tickets, merchandise, etc directly from the app without needing to enter a long card number or details. By smoothing out the experience, you’re more likely to monetize – especially as latest figures show appetite for these payment methods is growing.

1 billion people are predicted to use a mobile payment app in 2020, and 1.31 billion people are predicted to pay this way over a six-month period by 2023 – making their lives easier by integrating no-fuss payment methods within your app will pay dividends.

#9. Gamification

Keep your fans hooked during periods of game ‘white space’ – whether through quizzes, fantasy tournaments, or tailored games to win prizes, tickets, or discounts. Incorporating gamification or gamifying a rewards program can not only improve your customer experience and give them a reason to keep coming back, research suggests that brands that incorporate gamification into their engagement strategies see a 22% rise in brand loyalty.

Which other features do you think are key to successful sports apps? Let us know over on Twitter or LinkedIn.