The Super Bowl gets voice-enabled

Amazon, Dish, Comcast and others are hoping to turn Super Bowl 2019 into a way to show off the potential for their voice technologies and TV integrations. The companies this week have been touting new features and a variety of voice commands that will allow viewers to get prepared for the big game, learn about players and teams, tune into NFL news and highlights, set their recordings and more.

In some cases, this may be as simple as asking your TV to tune to the Super Bowl, record the event or get more information about the game, as is the case with Dish. Customers can press the button on their Dish voice remote, then say “Super Bowl” or “Super Bowl 53” to watch, find information or record the game, the company says.

Comcast and Amazon are taking things further, however.

Comcast’s Xfinity X1 customers can now use their voice remote to get the latest stats, get pre-game news and post-game highlights or even turn on an app that tracks real-time stats on the screen during the big [...]  read more

Turner had to stream Woods-Mickelson golf event for free due to glitch

However, not everyone is happy with the freebie. Comcast said it was “proactively” offering refunds to Xfinity cable subscribers who’d paid for the golf showdown, since they could have tuned in at no charge. It also pressured Turner to “do the same” knowing there were no barriers to watching through its website.

This isn’t the first big pay-per-view streaming hiccup, but it’s one of the more prominent examples. It’s also somewhat humbling. Variety noted that AT&T and WarnerMedia were betting the Woods-Mickelson would serve as a showcase for their unified technological and broadcasting abilities — clearly, that didn’t go according to plan. As rare as this kind of incident might be, it suggests that online viewing isn’t as reliable as it could be.

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NBA League Pass transforms games into VR viewing parties

The new season brings back some familiar experiences including a “screening room” that shows as many as 13 League Pass games at once. You can watch with most any common VR headset, including Oculus gear, the HTC Vive line and PlayStation VR.

You’ll have to be sparing with your VR basketball experiences. NextVR has 26 games scheduled for 3D VR viewing, starting with Golden State at Denver on October 21st. Six of those (including the game on the 21st) are free preview games, however — it won’t cost you to give virtual viewing a try.

NBA League Pass 2018-2019 VR schedule

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SoftBank leads $35M investment in sports engagement startup Heed

Heed, a startup looking to create new ways for sports leagues and clubs to engage with fans, is announcing that it has raised $35 million led by SoftBank Group International.

As laid out for me by CEO Danna Rabin, the company sits at the intersection of sports and IoT — which makes sense, since it was founded by Internet of Things company AGT International and talent agency Endeavor.

“Our primary mission is to connect the young audience with sports leagues and clubs,” Rabin said. “[Those] audiences are consuming less broadcast TV, consuming less of anything linearly. Sports clubs and brands are having more and more issues connecting with and reengaging those younger audiences.”

To create that connection, Heed places sensors around the match or game venue, even potentially on players’ clothing and equipment.

For example, the team let me make a couple punches using gloves with sensors inside, which were created for the mixed martial arts league UFC. Afterwards, I could see the [...]  read more

CBS will stream Super Bowl LIII on mobile devices without a sign-in

CBS is streaming on a plethora of big-screen devices and platforms, including Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku players, Samsung TVs, Xbox One and Amazon’s Channels. And you’ll still have the choice of watching through NFL’s website and app, and Verizon (our parent company) is using its looser NFL deal to stream the Super Bowl on mobile devices through carrier-independent sites and services like AOL, Complex, Tumblr and Yahoo. However, the CBS plan should make access that much easier — you shouldn’t have problems following the game even when you’re far away from a TV.

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Start your ‘NBA 2K19’ MyCareer before the game is even out

NBA 2K19 doesn’t come out until September 7th (Anniversary Edition), but those of you who are impatiently waiting for the game can get a good taste for it starting today. Thanks to the Prelude demo, you can can play the first chapter of this year’s MyCareer mode on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, and you’ll be able to take any progress you make with you once you get the full copy. In 2K19, the story mode is called “The Way Back,” which will let you take your custom player on a journey from China to the G-League and, finally, the NBA.

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Lyft enables sloth with seat-specific stadium drop-offs

You’ll have access to the feature this fall, starting with rides to Major League Soccer games in Portland.

The addition bolsters Lyft’s efforts to fine-tune pickup and dropoff locations, and reflects a common strategy among ridesharing companies. The more seamless the booking and the more precise the dropoff point, the more likely you might be to use Lyft the next time you’re in a hurry to reach a venue instead of hailing an Uber.

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Soon you’ll be able to watch high school football on Twitter

Just at the NFL is gearing up to kickoff its regular season, Adidas has announced that it will be partnering with Twitter to livestream high school football games on the platform. The “Friday Night Stripes” series (Get it? Get it?) will include eight games, featuring teams from California, Georgia, Florida, Nevada and Indiana.

The series starts September 7 (a day after the NFL season opener, incidentally), running throughout the standard high school football season, until November 9.

The deal joins a slew of existing streaming sports deals for the platform, including pro games from the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, along with collegiate conferences, like Pac-12. NFL games, in particular, have been a big hit for the site. This will, however, mark the first time high school football games have been streaming on the platform.

ESPN play-by-play announcer Courtney Lyle will call the games, along with analysis from former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and sideline coverage [...]  read more

Facebook will stream live Champions League matches in Latin America

Access started with the UEFA Super Cup on August 15th (sorry about that!), and it will include both future Super Cups as well as finals. The deal gives Facebook the free-to-air exclusive, so you’ll otherwise need to pay for TV service or similar offerings to tune in.

This isn’t as large a deal as Champions League fans might like. However, it still suggests that Facebook’s move to hire Eurosport chief Peter Hutton is paying off. While Facebook is no stranger to live sports, it’s now scoring deals that would have seemed improbable just a couple of years ago. Don’t be surprised if it quickly becomes the go-to choice for online footy fans.

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EA apologizes for ‘unfortunate mistake’ of cutting Colin Kaepernick reference from ‘Madden’

EA became the subject of online scrutiny this week when it was discovered that the gaming giant deleted a reference to Colin Kaepernick on the soundtrack for Madden 19. The former 49ers quarterback was name-checked by rapper Big Sean on a verse of the YG song “Big Bank,” only to have the mention deleted. The track includes the line, “You boys all cap, I’m more Colin Kaepernick.”

The move was noted on Twitter this week and amplified by radio host (and Kaepernick’s girlfriend) Nessa Diab, along with Big Sean himself. The latter said the reference was deleted “like it was a curse word,” adding, “he’s not a curse, he’s a gift! Nobody from my team approved any of this.”

Kaepernick became a leading figure in the Black Lives Matter movement after sitting and later kneeling during the National Anthem as a form of protest against black deaths at the hands of police officers. A number of NFL players have since followed suit, leading Donald Trump [...]  read more