ESPN ScoreCenter Keeps Fans Up-to-Date on 500 Leagues, in Six Languages

By Carolyn Braff

ESPN’s global scores database already feeds updates from hundreds of games, matches, and races to television and online viewers around the world. Beginning this week, however, that same database will be utilized to keep fans updated via mobile as well. Scores from 500 leagues, representing nine sports, are available through ESPN Mobile’s ScoreCenter, a free application that launched this week on the Apple App store.

“We have a similar philosophy with what we do around scoring as it’s integrated with television, ESPN.com, and mobile phone,” explains Oke Okaro, VP of mobile product development for ESPN. “It’s ultimately the same from a procurement and aggregation standpoint, and we then syndicate those scores via different outlets.”

ESPN collects its scoring information from a number of sources, including direct connections with stadium scoreboards and several third-party aggregators. The statistics and analysis group at ESPN monitors and augments those feeds where appropriate, and the information is then stored in ESPN’s databases.

“In this particular case, given the breadth of scores that are covered in this application and given the global nature of the service, we’re tapping into everything that we have in the arsenal,” Okaro explains. “From an experience standpoint, this is the one application from ESPN that offers the greatest breadth of coverage.”

ScoreCenter offers real-time scores, live game information, summaries, and statistics to iPhone and iPod Touch users in 21 countries. Information is currently available from 500 leagues in eight sports — football, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, baseball, golf, tennis, and auto racing — with cricket and rugby to be added next week. Fans can personalize their favorites to receive alerts for only their teams, sports, or languages of choice.

The application is currently available in six languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. As Okaro explains, some of the translations involved in the application are extremely complex. “We’re able to translate a variety of different things around the game details in real time in a way that is predictable.”

This multi-language service, he notes, is different from some others that ESPN offers, where original-content stories are written in different languages. For this application, the content is translated from its original language, not rewritten in the other five. ESPN’s in-house team built a series of tools that can manage such translations on the fly. In addition to word-to-word translation, the application integrates localization settings, such as inverting the day and month when moving from American to European game dates.

“If you’re looking at a preview, for example, if your device is set to the German settings, all we have to do is translate the word ‘preview,’ detect what language you have set on your device, and then serve that content up using that particular translation,” Okaro explains. “In addition to just translations, we’re also doing localization, depending on what the prevailing norms are in that market.”

The ScoreCenter application is currently available exclusively through the Apple App Store, with no plans to build it out for other devices just yet.

“We do have a number of things coming later in the year that are going to further complement this product,” Okaro adds. “When we look at mobile generally, it’s about the entire experience that we deliver to fans. Our mobile Website drives a tremendous amount of traffic, and ScoreCenter enables us to provide another window into that experience, which is where we are ultimately going to aggregate the largest number of users.”

ScoreCenter debuted this week for users in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the U.S.