New digital services offer university sports at home

By in Sports & Health

The Canada West Universities Athletics Association is making it easier for sports fans to follow their favourite university sports teams with the launch of the new Canada West Front Row score-tracking app and the re-launch of the Canada West TV streaming service.

The Athletics Association is comprised of university sports teams from schools across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Both the CW  Front Row app, which is available on both Android and iOS devices, and the revamped CWTV streaming service were made available for the 2017-18 season in mid-August.

The CW Front Row app was developed for Android and iOS devices by PrestoSports, a Maryland software-development firm that specializes in apps and software designed for college sports teams. The app is fully featured with a sleek interface that separates stats and news. What’s more, CW Front Row is available for free.

The application displays news and stats from a large variety of sports — including football, soccer, wrestling, hockey, basketball and track and field. The depth of the statistics can vary depending on which team is selected, as stats pages sometimes link to individual team websites, but most teams offer more than just box scores. Statistics can be viewed for individual players, and in some cases, even play-by-play recaps and team comparisons are offered.

The app also features a comprehensive notification centre that allows fans to opt into which sports they would like to receive live notifications about. The notification centre works like an app of the quality that one could expect from Sportsnet or ESPN, but the focus on university sports allows for some interesting niches. For example, those who want up-to-the-minute notifications on university cross-country running can get them — CW Front Row has an option for it.

The news section of the app does exactly what it advertises, providing an aggregation of links to stories from the Canada West website. The overall presentation of the app is comparable to those released by larger sports-broadcasting companies, and it functions in a way that is immediately accessible and intuitive.

The Canada West TV streaming service, which has been relaunched by Yare Media Group Inc. — a media-streaming company from Surrey, B.C. — provides live sports broadcasting from across the Canada West catalogue. Canada West TV broadcasts live streams of hockey, wrestling, rugby, basketball, volleyball, football, swimming and track.

The business model is surprisingly versatile with an all-access package, options for specific teams and sports and pay-per-view pricing on specific events. The streaming itself caps out at 720p in resolution, but the quality of presentation is strong, with a standard digital scoreboard across all events and solid commentary.

The service allows users to search for content by narrowing down the events based on team, sport and time of broadcast. CWTV also includes access to interviews and highlights under a clips tab. Unlike the events, clips can be accessed on demand.

One of the best features of the service is the ability to watch up to four events at once. Each event is shown in a thumbnail-sized video player, with volume controls, allowing you to focus on the commentary from one video while playing the other three in the background. The size of the videos leaves a bit to be desired, but considering bandwidth limitations, it’s still a neat feature.

The Canada West website claims that the service can be used on computers, as well as Apple and Android phones and tablets. With the help of Google’s Chromecast, AirPlay for Apple TV or an HDMI cable linking a computer to your TV, this service is capable of playing on your television as well. CWTV is a strong streaming app that should appeal to anyone interested in watching university sports.

Canada West’s new app and relaunched streaming service give university sports fans a few exciting new ways to follow their favourite sports from home.

Cole Chretien

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor