Apple releases free new sports app for iPhone

February 22, 2024

On Wednesday, February 21, Apple released a free new iPhone app for tracking sports scores—its latest effort to become a major provider of sports content and news, reports CNBC.

The app, called Apple Sports, does one thing well: It shows sports scores from all the major teams and leagues. Users in the U.S.A., Canada and the U.K. can download it immediately.

Apple Services SVP Eddy Cue said the company designed the app to be fast and simple for multiple quick checks per day. It will stand out from other sports scores apps because Apple doesn’t represent a team or league and isn’t incentivized to engage users for long sessions, he said.

“You want your scores basically to be real time. You want them to be … easy to get to. And nothing else is getting in the way. And that’s the primary purpose of the app,” said Cue, hoarse from cheering at the Super Bowl, in an interview last week.

Apple has moved into sports in recent years by buying rights and airing Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer games, adding extra sports journalism to its News app and airing sports-related documentaries about teams such as the Golden State Warriors and the New England Patriots on Apple TV+.

Apple also bid for rights to National Football League games last year before losing out to YouTube, CNBC reports, and is expected to be a player in upcoming rights negotiations for the National Basketball Association. Apple, like Google and Amazon, sees major live sports events as a potential anchor for its streaming services.

This new app, which won’t come pre-installed on iPhones, is tightly integrated with Apple’s other Services apps, such as the TV app and News app.

For example, it will take the user’s existing preferences for favorite teams, sports, and leagues from those apps, so that when the Sports App is first opened, many will already see scores from their favorite teams.

Notifications and live activities are also handled by the Apple News and Apple TV apps—including existing features such as notifications for game start times or an alert for a close game the user is interested in.

Most game pages will include sport-specific information, such as who scored goals, which players are on the court, or who’s on first base. Pages also will include live betting odds, but users can turn them off in settings.v

The game pages will also often include an Apple TV button. That means the user can tap the button to view a livestream of the game. It works for sports Apple carries, as well as games on streaming services that are connected to the Apple TV app, many of which still require a cable subscription but will increasingly be available from over-the-top streamers.

“In an ideal world, when I’m looking at the Duke game, it says open the TV app, I’d like it to get me to the game of basketball,” Cue said. “And that’s what we try to do.”

“As a huge sports fan, there’s never been a better time; there’s never been a worse time,” Cue said. “The best time is that pretty much everything in the world is televised in some fashion. But it’s never been worse. Because of the amount of services, the rights, the blackouts, the restrictions.”

Apple will also have features that will allow users to follow college basketball’s March Madness tournament in the app, Cue said.

Here’s a list of leagues Apple says it will support: MLB, NFL, NCAA football, WNBA, MLS, NBA, NCAA basketball (men’s and women’s), NHL, Bundesliga, and LaLiga.

Research contact: @CNBC