X

Apple's New Sports App Focuses on Scores, Stats and Speed

The company's expansion into sports continues, this time with a new Apple Sports app.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
5 min read

Apple's interest in the wide world of sports is continuing to grow. This week the company announced its latest app, dubbed Apple Sports, and it has a fairly straightforward mission: be the fastest, easiest way to get the latest scores and stats about the teams and players you care about. 

Apple Sports app
Apple

"It's very simple, to solve a problem that I've had as a sports fan, and I think most people have had as a sports fan, which is how do you get scores and stats for live games?" says Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of services. "And we've done this in a very clean, really easy to use, and most importantly, fast – meaning real-time [way]." 

Cue notes that the new app will update "faster than TV in most cases" because most live events are broadcast with a delay. 

Watch this: Apple Sports Is the Next Step in Apple's Big Sports Plans

The app, which is iPhone-only for now and free to download for users in the US, UK and Canada, is only focused on sports scores, stats and following favorite teams to start. At launch, Apple supports a variety of leagues currently in season, including NBA, NHL, MLS, men's and women's college basketball, and a host of international soccer leagues, including the Bundesliga, LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Liga MX and the English Premier League. 

The company says that additional leagues, including MLB, NFL, college football, the WNBA and NWSL will be added "for their upcoming seasons."

Cue says that Apple has worked with a "huge number of providers" to get real-time, play-by-play data on ongoing games, sorting through all that information to make sure what the app presents is accurate and quick. 

While there are a multitude of apps that offer a similar premise -- including ones from CBS, ESPN, The Score and the major leagues themselves -- Apple aims to be faster and simpler at delivering what is happening in games. 

"I think ESPN does a great job with clips and all the things that they do, but they don't really do a great job in sports," he says when asked why users would want to use Apple Sports compared to the competition, noting that ESPN's app could make it hard to find scores you're looking for and customize to your preferences. 

Whereas ESPN has news and highlights all over its app's homepage and tabs on the bottom for watching games or viewing content from its ESPN Plus streaming service, Cue isn't trying to fill every bit of a sports fan's appetite with this app. 

Apple Sports, by contrast, is "not trying to solve 20 different things." Cue acknowledges that it's easy to get the score of a game from a variety of sources today, but "it's not a great experience if you're trying to do multiple teams, multiple leagues, etc. That's what we're trying to solve with this."

What's here, and what's not

Apple Sports game page

The Apple Sports app will include real-time information on what is happening in games, as well as live betting odds. 

Apple

At least at launch, there isn't support for the company's "Live Activities" feature, which puts the latest scores from teams you follow on your iPhone's Dynamic Island and lock screen, allowing you to monitor what's happening at a glance (assuming you have a compatible device).

To get that, you will still need to go through the Apple TV app, which already allows sports fans to follow their favorite teams and have their scores appear as Live Activities. Apple News similarly allows you to find and follow specific teams.

If you already have that set up in either the TV or News app, your list of favorite teams will carry over into the new Sports app.

Read more: Best iPhone to Buy in 2024

With a specific focus on scores and stats, Apple Sports will be, by design, missing several features that fans may have become accustomed to. There is no fantasy sports integration or a way to follow particular players, and the app isn't incorporating news, highlights or social media chatter about ongoing games or the teams you follow. The company still has its Apple News app for some of that information.  

It will integrate with the Apple TV app and offer a quick link to stream games if it's available on Apple's platform (such as MLS matches or its Friday night MLB games that stream on Apple TV Plus) or is on an app that you've connected to that Apple TV app.

Several leagues allow their apps to connect to the Apple TV app, including MLB, NBA and NFL, as do a variety of streaming apps and services that stream sports, like Paramount Plus, Peacock, Prime Video, Max, DirecTV, Sling TV and Fubo, and channels like ESPN and CBS Sports. 

Watch this: Camera Comparison: The Galaxy S24 Ultra Takes On the iPhone 15 Pro Max

Connecting apps like the NBA app, for example, will allow the Apple Sports app to show you if the game is available to stream on NBA League Pass (assuming you subscribe to that service). 

Apple will show pregame and live betting odds from DraftKings, but it will not be integrating with betting services at launch. Apple will allow users to hide betting odds in settings if users want, but, Cue adds, "Whether we let you tap on it to go to DraftKings or not … we'll decide that later, we just decided right now we just want to show the odds and see." 

"We're not against" betting, he adds. 

The launch of the dedicated sports app is Apple's latest step into sports. It follows deals that now see it broadcast some Friday night MLB games on Apple TV Plus and as well as becoming the main way to watch all MLS matches around the world with its Season Pass subscription offering. 

The new app "is a continuation of what we're doing with sports," Cue says. "There's a bunch of pain points that we see as fans that, if we can resolve, we're going to do it."

In addition to MLB and MLS, Apple was rumored to be a bidder for the NFL Sunday Ticket package that eventually went to Google's YouTube TV and has been mentioned in the rumors as a possible partner for the NBA, whose media rights are currently up for bidding. 

Cue, a noted Golden State Warriors fan who has been spotted courtside at the team's games, did not go into whether the company would be involved with getting those rights.

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

See all photos