NCCU Eagles fans have new mobile app

Mar. 06, 2013 @ 06:36 PM

Need a way to keep up with whether N.C. Central will add to the 21 wins that have the Eagles basketball team soaring toward a potential NCAA tournament berth?

There's an app for that.

Unveiled Monday at halftime of the Eagles' win against S.C State, the smart phone and tablet applications for NCCU athletics allows users to listen to games, check out past interviews with players and coaches and keep abreast of the latest news about the Eagles.  

The app was designed by a Raleigh company called StepLeader, an offshoot of Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent company of WRAL-TV and FOX 50.

StepLeader, now operating independently of Capitol Broadcasting, designed mobile apps for the aforementioned television stations. The NCCU app is the company's first venture into the college-athletics app world.  

"For us, it's sort of a logical move to go from local television to college sports," said Brian Handly, StepLeader’s chief executive officer.

StepLeader's work with the local TV stations included repackaging the text and pictures containing their news content and making it suitable for smart phones. That's essentially what the company did for NCCU, taking the material available at NCCUEaglePride.com and optimizing it for mobile devices.

Although streaming audio is available on the NCCU app, it does not currently provide video. That's in the works for Eagles fans, Handly said.

"Users will be able to watch that game on their mobile devices," Handly said. "We're in the middle of working with NCCU on the video piece right now."

The idea for NCCU's app came from Capitol Broadcasting executive George Habel, vice president of the Durham Bulls. Capitol Broadcasting owns the Bulls.

Habel was at the table when NCCU athletics director Ingrid Wicker-McCree and others were brainstorming about building the brand of the historically black college that is competing for attention in the Triangle with Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State, each of them big-time, Atlantic Coast Conference schools.

"The idea for the app just came out of that conversation," Habel said.

While NCCU is a Division I school in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the university just doesn't have the resources to tell its story the way that those ACC schools can, Habel said.

The NCCU app helps level the playing field at least in terms of online exposure, Habel said.

Last fall, FOX 50 helped NCCU with a campaign to promote its relationship with Durham's WNCU 90.7-FM, which aired NCCU football games.  

NCCU sports-information director Kyle Serba said he does not foresee folks' potential ease of being able to watch the Eagles on their smart phones as something that would hurt attendance at O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium or McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. Attendance did not drop when NCCU a few years ago began streaming video of football and basketball games on the internet, Serba said.  

The new app affords NCCU athletics a viable outlet to sell advertising and generate revenue, Serba said.

And that new app already has caused a stir in the Eagles' nest.

"I'm now a huge NCCU fan, are you kidding me?" Handly said. "I've downloaded the app and I go to it fairly frequently, and I'm showing it to everybody, so we're very proud of that."