[NEW APPY HOUR PODCAST] How Fox Sports Tackles Mobile App Retention

Retention and ratings are topics at the top of every product manager’s mind.

How does a popular brand like FOX Sports handle them? In the latest episode of the Appy Hour we asked Calvin Kuo, Senior Product Manager at FOX Sports, what strategies he’s using to retain customers and invite them to rate the app at just the right time.

We’re covering the highlights of that interview here. You’ll read how he manages four different apps, the results of an A/B test use case, and of course, Calvin’s take on the future of mobile (his answer might surprise you).


Sports apps are already a commodity. So Calvin’s team doesn’t focus their efforts on new users.

Their main goal is not so much user acquisition but retention of those who actually find, use, and enjoy their app. His job is to provide the best experience, the coolest features, and the least amount of friction to keep them coming back. His metrics are less about install numbers and more about time spent within the app.


“Our app rating is key,” Calvin told us.

They launched FOX Sports Go to great reviews, but one of the key workflows for the users is to walk through the sign-in process for their TV providers. Users pass through to  a different system, log in there, then bounce back to the app. Once you’ve got your credentials, you can begin watching your content.

But that additional workflow has some kinks.

Lots of users attribute those problems with FOX Sports’ own product. Their job is to take every not-so-positive review and try to combat that with a positive review.

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How do they do it? They provide a usage-based survey, enhanced by Localytics to get it to the right users at the right time. They have a ton of targeted experience now. They know when a user’s having a good experience, so they know when to ask for feedback.

They started a campaign about a year ago to get more reviews and have seen a lot of success. They kept it narrow at first, trying to get reviews from people who were using their app the most. With Localytics, they received real-time feedback as to who was entering the system and who was leaving reviews.

After that, they were able to test what would happen if they asked people who were using the app a little less. They found that they didn’t have to go after the heavy users to get a good review. It ended up being that a user who has only come back once or twice has enough experience to be willing to give reviews.

There’s also a bit of industry news working in the favor of apps like FOX Sports Mobile that continue to improve their user experience. Apple is going to give apps the opportunity to display the ratings for the current version of their app or the overall ratings, which is a nice option to have.

A Successful A/B Test

Calvin and his team wanted to know whether they got a better feedback rating if they fired off their promotion when the user completed what they considered a successful conversion in the app versus, say, on the next start-up.

FOX Sports doesn’t have a subscription base. While the natural idea for conversion is when you buy or complete something, in this case they were trying to perform the test in their FOX Sports app for scores. They tried to envision what the idea of conversion inside of a news or scores app would be. So they experimented.

Do users feel satisfied when they finish reading a game summary? When they exit out, is that the right time to fire off a promotion? That was the A, and sending it at the next app start was the B.

After running the A/B test with Localytics, they found surprising results. It turns out that people don’t want to be bothered when they’re exploring the app. They found a clear-cut difference between the ratings when they sent their promotion on the next session start versus a completion of a game summary.

The Future of Mobile


We like to ask all of our guests on the Appy Hour podcast this question: Where do you think the future of mobile is headed?

Here was Calvin’s answer:

“I’m gonna narrow it down to sports, because sports is the last frontier for live programming. I came from the National Football League to FOX Sports, and I keep seeing the transition of the Thursday Night Football product.

They’ve been able to get the rights distributed to three different companies over the past three years. First it was Yahoo, last year Twitter, and this fall we’ll have football on Amazon. What’s exciting to see is the games themselves move into the purely digital space, and I’m happy to be on the forefront of that.

Finally, I think the mobile industry may be headed away from phones. I can see things moving even more towards the watch devices.

The opportunity is yet to rear itself. People are waiting for the next shoe to drop; there are a few things that need to happen before people trust their watch alone to handle everything. Once we see that, you’re going to see people make the transition.

I can’t wait to be there.”

This post is based on a podcast interview with Calvin Kuo from FOX Sports. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Appy Hour .

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here:

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