Olympics Sports News WAP Review: ESPN Gets Gold; Silver For Fox Sports; NBC And CBS Tie For Bronze

In our second  of a series (first is here) of reviews on mobile content from the Olympics, we took a look at the major sports news sites – ESPN, NBC Sports, CBS Sports and Fox Sports – to see which is providing the best mobile experience on their mobile site’s homepages. Using a Nokia E71 and Nokia’s web browser, we compared each of the companies’ mobile WAP sites to determine which gave more credence to the global competition and how each presented Olympics-related content on a mobile phone. Albeit richer experiences can be had outside the constraints of WAP, results we encountered for purposes of this review were disappointing. Most notably, there was no video to be found on these sites. Keep in mind that we’re only comparing each of the main sports news homepages and not the specialized sites that have been launched in tandem with the games. Still, we expected to find at least some video. We’re awarding ESPN with the gold medal because it offered the richest, deepest and most visually appealing of the four sites we visited.

Gold: ESPN

– Features and overall review: ESPN beat out the competition mostly because it seemed to be the only site developed for mobile phones built in the last two years. At the top of the page, you see photos of the U.S. mens swimming team, analysis, scores and schedules and a series of Olympics-related headlines. You can track down medal counts by sport and then deeper in the site you encounter sections dedicated to different sports at the games that include news headlines and more detail. The site also presented an Olympics sport guide, overview, a section titled “Beijing Experience” and a detailed Olympic history section. So needless to say, I learned a few things about Taekwando and enjoyed reading through some of the history of the games, noting gaps in competition during both World Wars. ESPN also has a simple Olympics trivia section – I went two for five, and by pure luck.

– Ads: Bank of America and Tropic Thunder both had banner ads sitting at the top of the site on different days.

Silver: Fox Sports

– Features and overall review: Right at the top of the page we encountered a nice-sized photo of Michael Phelps biting ever-so-slightly into his latest gold medal.  Then Fox laid out a series of mixed headlines on the homepage, but there was no separate Olympics category or section. Headlines from the Olympics were mostly aggregated from multiple sources along with a few FoxSports.com stories. Overall, nothing special, but visually pleasing and Olympics coverage got some good real estate on the screen.

– Ads: There were some MSN Mobile-related banner ads, but nothing from outside advertisers that we saw.

Bronze: NBC Sports

– Features and overall review: NBC has built a separate site, NBCOlympics.com, for all of its Olympics coverage, which we plan to review in a more detailed review next week. But for this review, we’re only looking at NBC Sports’ mobile site, which is pretty basic compared to some of its competitors. Other than the banner ad linking to its separate Olympics site there was no mention of the games on the main page. The Olympics didn’t even qualify for one of the categories the site uses to organize sports news headlines under. Headlines are simply mixed together in a general section. Disappointing overall for the outlet that has exclusive rights to Olympics coverage for the U.S. market.

– Ads: There were two banner ads for NBC Sports and its Olympics site and then one for a ringtone company.

Bronze: CBS Sports/Sportsline

– Features and overall review: Not a single mention of the Olympics on CBS Sports Mobile main page and nothing under its menus and categories. Only after clicking on “more headlines” did we pull up a few Olympics-related stories. After searching specifically for “Olympics,” the site returned more than 100 links to news articles aggregated from various news outlets.

– Ads: There was a banner ad for the Hampton, and then banner ads for a few CBS properties.