Last night, with the help of Blogs With Balls, Bloomberg Sports hosted a happy hour for sports business folks and sports bloggers to show off the debut of Front Office 2011. Front Office is Bloomberg’s fantasy baseball draft kit built on top of Bloomberg’s own proprietary algorithms and analytics. Bill Squadron, who heads this effort for Bloomberg Sports, led an impressive demonstration of the application and quickly showed how it would help fantasy baseball players with their fantasy drafts and in making subsequent roster moves. The app is $19.95 for the season and is now available as a Web app and on the iOS platform. An Android release is planned for the future but Squadron said that it’s unlikely that it will be available for the 2011 season.
Bloomberg also brought along former MLB pitching coach Rick Peterson along to demonstrate Bloomberg’s Pro application. Rick showed how Pro, a Web app licensed by MLB clubs, is being used by MLB clubs as a scouting tool and statistical database. The Pro application was also truly impressive and even though it’s not generally available as a consumer app, I know that any baseball junkie would go ape-shit for the opportunity to play with Pro for a few hours. Being able to search across numerous variables and instantly view the video of the desired pitch or at bat? Cool stuff.
Both the consumer fantasy product (Front Office 2011) and the professional scouting product (Pro) were very impressive. Both were extremely powerful in terms of both flexibility and potential impact and yet maintained a really intuitive user interface that would make the apps easy to use by anyone in their respective target markets.
It’s also worth noting that this is an example that shows that Bloomberg, of all companies, is doing more to innovate on the consumer side of sports than any other company out there (sorry, ESPN and Yahoo). These are the first truly innovative, high-quality technology applications that I have seen come to market and I’m looking forward to seeing others follow Bloomberg’s lead. I’ll be keeping a closer eye on what Bloomberg does from here on out.