Last September in ‘Why fantasy football may hold the key to the future of news‘ I wrote that data was one of the few advantages that news organisations have, and they should be doing more with it. A piece in today’s ReadWriteWeb adds a little commercial stardust to that hypothesis:
“MLB.com’s already wildly successful iPhone app [has] a $10 price tag that sports fans are apparently happy to pay, this could provide a great model for other struggling media to find an important new revenue stream – and not just because it charges for content. “… Any media outlet that can leverage statistics and data visualization as a central part of its coverage would be well served to put those visualizations in an iPhone app and sell it. The iPhone and Android platforms are brilliant for scrolling and zooming through layers of data in ways that print, TV and radio could only dream of. Mobile, touchscreen and hand-held beats a web page on the desktop computer too for data visualization.”
Amen to that.
Whenever I do sessions with people in the industry about online business models I show them The Guardian’s Chalkboard. That for me is a prime candidate for a premium mobile app (assuming there are no licensing issues) – not just because of the data, but because it is social. News orgs take note.
I’ve written previously on the Online Journalism Blog about ‘Why fantasy football may hold the key to the future of news‘. Now it seems The Guardian has taken things up a notch with the wonderful Chalkboard feature: an interactive database-driven toolkit that allows you to create your own ‘chalkboards’ illustrating whatever point you may wish to make about a team or player’s performance. Here’s my first attempt below:
Cute, yes? But more than just cute. This is an idea that takes sports data and makes it more than just ‘interactive’. This makes it communicative.
Because you are not just toying with data but creating it to make a point. Once you create a chalkboard it is published to everyone, with space for comments. You can send it, share it or embed it – as I have.
Clearly there are improvements that can be made – starting with searchability/findability from the chalkboard/team page and the odd bug (the description which I entered was not visible on the test I did above, and limiting it to the final 15 minutes does not seem to have worked – you still see all passes).
But really that would be picking holes in what is a beautifully thought-through piece of work – a piece of work that understands if you’re to make news work online it has to be as much a platform as a destination (a platform which in turn opens up plenty of opportunities for monetisation).
The site claims match stats will be available 15 minutes after the full time whistle. Suddenly the calls to local radio to bemoan the manager’s tactics seem one-dimensional. And spending 60 seconds reading the match report is nothing compared to the time that will be spent carefully constructing your argument as to why your star midfielder should not have been sold to that close relegation rival…
Thanks to Alex Lockwood for the tip-off.