Video Drives Premium Version of Big South’s New Mobile App

Even smaller conferences are getting behind second-screen initiatives driven by video.

The premium version of the Big South Sports mobile app is available for $3.99 and includes supplementary video ranging from game highlights to season previews and player features.

The Big South Conference – home to such schools as Winthrop, High Point, Liberty, VMI, and UNC Asheville – introduced mobile applications for both Android and iOS devices (Apple iPhone and iTouch), with supplemental video as the primary feature of the premium app.

The applications, developed in conjunction with NeuLion, offer access to the headlines, schedules, and standings for all Big South Conference sports. Both the Android and iPhone apps are available in free and premium versions, with the free edition including all news elements, and the premium upgrade ($3.99) including video clips and audio.

“We were able to get the release of the Android and iPhone apps ready before conference play begins in earnest for basketball,” says Mark Bryant, Big South Conference director of multimedia development, “and that’s good for us because that’s when a lot of our traffic increases. We wanted to have our mobile app ready for that period of increased interest.”

The app’s video, which is transmitted to NeuLion via H.264, includes programming staples ranging from highlight clips, postgame interviews, season previews, and short features. Live games, however, are not yet a part of the platform.

Live games anywhere should not be far down the road for the Big South, though, as the conference, which controls a vast majority of its video rights, already requires member schools to provide a live stream of all home games for all sports when playing teams both within and outside of the conference. This programming fills the online Big South Network, which streams over 700 events a year.

“We have tried as a conference to be with the tide of tech changes,” says Bryant. “Part of streaming the games through our website and the volume we get there, we know video is key and as everyone knows, information needs to be instantaneous and easy to get. We wanted another way for our fans to have the official stories in their hand in an instant.”

The Big South, in coordination with NeuLion, concluded that offering streaming of live games on its current app wasn’t wise and sticking to short form videos was best for the small screen of a mobile device. In their view, full live events may be best suited for a tablet app that could be available sometime in the near future.

“We certainly want to get to a point where a person can watch a game anywhere,” says Bryant.