The March Of Madness: Apple TV Is Unveiling ACC Sports App

With six teams from its conference qualifying for the NCAA basketball March Madness tourney that begins tomorrow, the powerhouse Atlantic Coast Conference on Monday took a leap into over the top TV business, announcing a new ACC Sports app available to AppleTV users.

The new app is an add on to the ACC Digital Network, but an early-adopter sign that the mass marketing of OTT content goes beyond movies and TV shows.

ACC Sports is teaming with SportsLab, a part of Chicago-based Silver Chalice Ventures, in the news last month when it announced 120 Sports, a live-streaming 24-hour online network.  Investors in that included Time, Inc. and content participants from MLB, and the NHL and NBA.

The ACC Sports app for Apple came together quickly, said Rajeev Raman, the CEO of 1 Mainstream, whose firm put together the technology to deliver it just a little over four weeks. It’s had experience building OTT apps and brings soccer-heavy Sky Sports to Apple TV in the United Kingdom. The sweet spot for 1 Mainstream is creating apps that can reach across all platforms in that split-up delivery world.  

Raman says 1 Mainstream tries to sell its technical know-how and automated back end solutions so that creators can concentrate on content, not how to get the stuff to consumers.

“The big thing with content like this is how much time it takes to bring it to market,” he said, knowing the vagaries of how to make apps that can be bent to work across platforms.

There’s likely a huge demand for ACC Sports, which will be utilizing information and video from its member powerhouse schools that include Duke, the University of North Carolina, Virginia, and newbie Syracuse, all with strong fan bases.

A spokeswoman for the league says the new Apple app won’t have rights to March Madness highlights themselves—a rights management kind of madness of its own, it would seem — but will have preview videos, interviews, game analysis and all the rest. Fans without Apple TV will also be able to access via ACC Websites and or iOS and Android apps.     

Raman said one determination with ACC Sports was to utilize a multi-content delivery network approach, so that ACC Sports users aren’t slowed down when other consumers are plugged into the same network at crunch time, a happenstance that is much more likely with sports apps, where usage will peak around game times.

By checking every eight seconds, 1 Mainstream’s turnkey technology can switch users to one of three or four other networks if one is bogged down by a competing sports app, like say the NFL’s. “That could be a problem, but with multi-CDNs, it’s all solvable,” Raman says.

The big thing is making sure users aren’t disappointed. “In the digital space, it’s critical that our networks be accessible on as many internet enabled devices as possible,” stated John Burris, president of Silver Chalice Ventures/SportsLabs.

No doubt, more of these streaming sports networks affiliated with leagues seems obviously…obvious. Beyond that though, Raman thinks apps like this get consumers and content creators, “past the notion that OTT is just for streaming movies.”

Indeed, Apple never seems to be fully invested in the OTT business; maybe this is a little sign it’s changing its tune. But in Europe, where content rights are a lot easier to arrange—making streaming apps more possible--1 Mainstream’s business of being a one-stop facilitator, is, in the content delivery world, already a little more mainstream.

pj@mediapost.com

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