The World Cup, which is a big deal everywhere in the world, and a bigger deal here than most people give it credit for (after all, American kids have been playing soccer since the late 1960s), could be a killer app for sports on mobile phones.
At least it might be for dozens of other countries, but not so much here in the U.S. And not just because we are talking about soccer, either.
Because of the worldwide interest, there has been an unprecedented licensing of wireless video rights:
More than 100 countries have some form of mobile video offerings for the matches, with some real soccer hotbeds such as Italy, Germany and Switzerland broadcasting entire matches to mobile devices.
Why would anybody watch these matches on their phones when they have so many other options? For the same reason that somebody brings a portable TV to his daughter’s soccer playoffs when they coincide with the NFL playoffs.
Or maybe, here in the U.S., somebody works at a company that blocks access to all sports sites (thank you, March Madness), and the only way they can see highlights of our team’s games is via Verizon’s V Cast. Even if those highlights are 1) all generated by our opponents and 2) in Spanish.
Part of the problem, of course, is that the U.S. currently lags further behind in wireless video than we do in soccer.
The good news is that it’s only a matter of time before the NFL, NBA and MLB join the wireless party — highlights already abound from a mobile service created by ESPN — and withing the next couple of years we might be able to see events like Barry Bonds’ 756th home run or Kobe Bryant’s 101 point game on our phones nearly as soon as they happen.