March Madness Goes Mobile

iphone-ncaaAh, yes, spring is in the air. And it’s not just fever; it’s madness.

March Madness, that is–as in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, which tips off today. So as focus shifts to tracking players in fantasy leagues, there are a number of mobile players doing their own kind of tracking–as in customer acquisition. Here’s how the first round has shaped up:

  • –Yahoo launched a widget for its Go 3 mobile platform–in addition to a dedicated mobile tourney Web site–sponsored by Jaguar. The widget pumps out ongoing updates, news, and pics from Yahoo Sports and, and the WAP site integrates with their oneSearch offering.

–AT&T added a March Madness portal to its Media Net service, delivering video highlights, news, scores, polls, and NCAA roundball trivia. The service also includes a text-polling feature that allows users to help select winners of the 2008 Naismith Trophy, which is awarded to the top men’s and women’s player of the year.

–Sports Illustrated is leveraging the competion to promote MySI Mobile: a free downloadable application (still in beta, running on Windows Mobile 5) that allows users to pick their favorite teams and access scores, schedules, and standings with a single click. Fans can also receive news feeds, set calendar events, and access photos.

–Mobile development shop go2 launched a WAP site presenting game and telecast schedules, as well as near-real-time results. The company, in an interesting approach, is sending out their own correspondents to cover the games and create content.

4INFO offers a subscripton to “upset alerts,” or mobile text updates that inform you whenever a favored team is losing in the closing minutes of a matchup.

–Zumobi rolled out team-specific “tiles” on its mobile interface for 25 colleges in the competition, which include player information, news, scores, and stats.

–And in a school-specific initiative, Georgetown University put together a mobile program where fans can text to a short code to get the latest on the team’s open practice session (highlighted during Washington Wizards games) and tourney updates.

Big-draw events like NCAA March Madness are a fantastic opportunity for carriers, application makers, and content providers to make the next push into mobile content. Uptake has been slow, as we all know; but as operators begin to move into flat pricing programs (all the majors have rolled out some kind of all-you-can-eat plan, typically at $99), we should see continued growth and innovation as users begin to have freer reign of the mobile web.

Oh, and one more thing… Go Bruins!