INSIDE APPLE'S SPORTS SURVEILLANCE ROOM
IN A conference room on the second floor of Apple's Results Way complex in Cupertino, Calif., a dozen employees watch it all: every minute of March Madness, minor tennis tournaments, spring training baseball, college lacrosse, even curling. The team manages the sports subsection on Apple's TV app and on its Apple TV interface, keeping an eye out for newsworthy moments. With the power to send push alerts to users, who can then tune in with a tap of their screens, they're making sure that casual fans will never miss a watercooler moment again.
On a whiteboard that stretches the length of the room, there are definitions for a college basketball upset (Top 5 team losing to anyone outside the Top 10) and an NBA comeback (any team down 16 or more that cuts the lead to less than seven). But there are still decisions to make. Alert users of a triple-overtime NBA game between two lottery teams? Nope. A fourth overtime? O.K., send it.
In the process, Apple is playing sports media mediator: It can tell you what you're missing and, oh, yes, sell you the subscription to ESPN+, YouTube TV or PlayStation Vue, taking a cut along the way. Also, the thinking goes, the easier the company makes watching sports on your phone, the more you'll watch. And the more you watch, the better iPhone you'll inevitably want.
Apple is expected to announce any day now that it is getting into the streaming business, and the company has reportedly budgeted $1 billion for original content, including a deal with Kevin Durant's production company for a basketball drama. But don't expect the tech giant to venture into live broadcasts. Asked how much he's thinking about competing against Facebook and Amazon (both of which have begun airing games), Apple senior vice president for Internet software and services Eddy Cue says, "Not a lot, honestly."
Instead, he is focused on the mediator role: developing a personalized hub that could one day tell you what you should be watching, based on your viewing habits, favorite teams, fantasy matchups and even your betting slips. "Pretty much every game of anything is available to watch," he says.
If YouTube can offer tailored playlists and Netflix has an infinite stream of recommended content, it was only a matter of time before technology would disrupt how we consume sports. Devoting hours to watching games could be a thing of the past. Get all the drama without any of the doldrums. Introducing: RedZone for Everything.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
POLICE IN OHIO, RESPONDING TO A 911 CALL REPORTING SOMEONE "YELLING, SCREAMING AND FLAILING HIS ARMS," FOUND A 17-YEAR-OLD WHO HAD JUST LEARNED THE BROWNS HAD TRADED FOR ODELL BECKHAM JR.
THEY SAID IT
[A YEAR AGO] I WAS PLAYING 25K [EVENTS] IN JAPAN, AND NOW I'M—CAN I SAY THE F-WORD? NO, I CAN'T—THE EFFING CHAMPION OF INDIAN WELLS.
BIANCA ANDREESCU, the 18-year-old Canadian tennis player, who became the first woman to win the tournament as a wild card.