Phillip hopes that the service won’t just help fans catch key moments for their favorite teams. He believes it could also help them discover exciting games that they might otherwise ignore. For example, he says, he recently analyzed the ratings on RUWT?! to find the most exciting NFL teams. The Steelers and Packers were comfortably in the top third, but the most exciting team of the season, according to RUWT?!, turned out to be the Washington Redskins. Phillip notes that they played a lot of close, “ulcer-inducing” games.
“As a fan and researcher, I can see where there’s potential for this,” says John Fortunato, a professor of communication and media management at Fordham University who studies sports media.
Fortunato says the networks already do a good job of promoting games and making sure fans know when their favorite teams are playing and when a game is likely to be important. But he says he can envision a tool like RUWT?! being useful for games that don’t seem inherently interesting but wind up being exciting anyway. “If I’m out in the yard and I get a text that the game’s tied with 10 minutes to go, then, yeah, I could see myself stopping what I’m doing and going in to watch for half an hour,” he says.
The app itself is free, but Phillip hopes that the software’s potential to attract fans when they wouldn’t otherwise be watching will make it appealing for advertising or licensing deals. Phillip also thinks the technology could be incorporated into digital video recorders to make them smarter. “Sports is the most DVR-resistant genre on TV,” he says, noting that games can be delayed or go into overtime, making it hard to record them properly. He believes RUWT?! could help: for example, people could set a DVR equipped with RUWT?! to record exciting moments personalized to their interests.
For now, Phillip is bringing the capabilities of RUWT?! to television through Google TV, which corrals Internet video and broadcast and pay TV channels and makes them all searchable on a television set. Not including apps from Google’s launch partners, RUWT?! was the first Google TV app to be approved. The service is also available through e-mail and text message alerts, as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, and as an app for the desktop, major smart phones, and the Chrome store.