Phone app designed to capture young baseball fans' interest

During a recent Las Vegas 51s game, Randy Howe was chatting with fans strolling along the main concourse at Cashman Field and showing them a baseball-theme phone app.

The mobile app showed trivia questions on 51s players and 51s video highlights. Figuring professional baseball could use help to capture a bigger slice of the youth demographic, Howe, a Channel 3 weekend TV sports broadcaster, crafted the trivia question format and video platform for the phone app in hopes baseball teams will buy his product.

To give fans a taste, Howe rolled out a prototype of the app during the most recent 51s homestand.

The app, which is free, shows baseball trivia questions and video composed of highlights supplied by the team. Howe re-edits the raw video into content for his “fan engagement platform.”

The app can include other content such as team sponsors or allow fans to post information to social media.

Howe would make his money from selling the software to teams.

Chuck Johnson, the 51s’ general manager, liked the phone app because it’s geared toward capturing younger fans who are more attuned to cellphone technology.

“It’s a fabulous idea that he has come up with,” Johnson said this week.

Johnson said 51s sponsors can be included in the app’s trivia questions and highlights. “There’s certainly an avenue to create awareness of our sponsors and partners,” he said.

Howe plans to apply for a product license with Major League Baseball. He first unveiled the product in December 2011 when he took the prototype to a Major League Baseball trade show in Orlando, Fla., to launch his company’s patents.

“In the past, our products have been used as promotional giveaway items so licensing was not required,” Howe said.

He has invested about $120,000 in his company, SocialTainment Media LLC, for patents and software development for Android, Apple, Facebook and Mac- and Windows-compatible USB drive “Fan-tastick Game Chains.”

The game chains are mini-sports theme items such as footballs and basketballs that contain flash drives on key chains.

Howe launched the business with friends and family investments. But he is seeking bridge funding to expand the business “from my wife and I” after meeting officials with NASCAR, NBA, Major League Baseball, UFC and the NCAA concerning licensing.

“We fully expect to be self-funded within six months,” Howe said.

Howe is marketing the sports-theme gadgets under his SocialTainment company name and registered it under Champions USB LLC.

Howe said he came up with the idea four years ago when he saw stories on young fans’ attendance at professional baseball games and NASCAR declining.

“They were looking for ways to attract younger fans and wanted to educate them to become lifetime fans, so I thought of a trivia game with videos to help younger fans relate since video and interactive games seem to be popular with kids,” he said.