This morning the Breeders' Cup announced the release of their free 2012 iPhone and iPad app. Whether by way of a mobile-friendly website or a stand-alone mobile application, the ability for fans to connect with any sport through the comfort of their phone or tablet is increasingly valuable in today's world. The Breeders' Cup has done a good job in attempting to incorporate all of the key information into their iPhone/iPad app - from BC Challenge results, video replays, live video and radio streaming, contender profiles, wagering locations, and on and on.
I used last year's app quite a bit and downloaded the new version this morning to give it a little test drive. Below is my unsolicited opinion on the 2012 version.
I love the ability to watch replays of Breeders' Cup Challenge races on my phone because, typically, I do a lot of handicapping away from my house. I make my selections and picks after several reviews of the form, charts and replays, and most of the time I am away from my computer during that process. So the ability to call up a replay of a race that I'm interested in on my phone is very convenient. That ability has always been available in the past, usually through a search of YouTube or other internet options. But the Breeders' Cup app streamlines the process so I know I can go right to the race I'm looking for, something that is a major plus of this app from my perspective.
Keeping with the video theme (which I really think is the strength of any horse racing app), the 2012 version once again will provide live video of all 15 Breeders' Cup races, as well as live radio coverage through HRRN (Horse Racing Radio Network). Last year's live video was pretty hit and miss in terms of quality (as a lot of streaming videos tend to be) but it's a move in the right direction. As they increase their ability to handle a large volume of people watching races through their app, I would expect the experience to improve. The radio option is a nice feature since the call of the race, if done properly, can be as good or better than the video
The app also provides some high-level profiles of the contenders for each division that include the connections, race record and recent results. One feature that I think is missing is with the race results. Right now the race record is pretty flat without a ton of good data. I think links to the result chart for all of the horse's 2012 races, and a link to the video replay to all of the horse's stakes races, would make the contenders section a lot more functional and useful from a handicapping perspective (which is what I'm most interested in).
This year's app includes a wagering calculator which I think is always a nice touch for those of us that like to repeatedly sketch out exotic tickets during our handicapping sessions. I also think wagering calculators are a necessity to help simplify concepts and ticket construction to new players. While the cost of a ticket is easily understood by the seasoned pros, a lot of casual fans don't fully grasp the complexities of wager costs. (I base that conclusion through my personal experience of standing in line at the Breeders' Cup to make a bet while a person at the front of the line asks for a 6 horse superfecta box and then freaks out when they are told how much that will cost.)
I played around with the calculator a little bit and it seems to work pretty well but is a little clunky as it only allows you to put in three horses in each leg of an exacta, trifecta or superfecta wager. The Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 6 calculation were easier to add more horses but needs a Pick 5 choice, as well.
Overall, I really like the direction that the Breeders' Cup is going with social media, mobile applications and their overall drive to bring the sport to fans in as many ways as possible. Television coverage is obviously a key component but there are limits to the exposure available on network or cable TV. The Breeders' Cup, and the horse racing industry in general, has to aggressively push into other avenues, like apps, YouTube and whatever else they can think of, in order provide fans with easy access to the sport.
Features of the 2012 iPhone and iPad app from the Breeders' Cup press release:
Video: In addition to watching all 15 Championship race live, video replays for each race will be available shortly after each race. Users can also watch every Breeders’ Cup World Championship race ever run (1984-2011);
News: Get the top stories and all the latest news leading up to and during the 2012 Breeders’ Cup World Championships;
Contenders: Access important information, powered by Equibase, about each of the 15 Championship races, including biographical information and current race records for all contenders in each division;
Official Event Program: View the official race day program, including full past performances for all horses, right through app. This feature will be activated within the app after the post position draw on 10/29.
Wagering: Utilize the wagering information section to find the closest simulcast site based on your current location, determine the costs of your bets with a handy wagering calculator or review the Betting 101 guide;
Live Radio Stream: Listen to live Breeders’ Cup coverage, including all 15 races, on the App courtesy of Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), which won an Eclipse Award for its 2010 Breeders’ Cup broadcast.
Track Info: Get important information regarding Santa Anita Park, including seat/facility maps, post times and local weather;
TV: Check out the TV schedule and official race day program (includes full race past performances); and
Social: Follow the Breeders’ Cup Twitter stream right from the app.