Fox Sports introduces vertical viewing for smartphone viewers

Who doesn't have a smartphone these days?

If you take a look around when you're outside, you often see people holding it vertically. But when it comes to people holding it horizontally, it can be like spotting a unicorn. And as parents will tell you, for the younger generations, the same goes even when they're inside.

"Even when they're watching television, they're on their phones and they're holding their phones tall," said Michael Bucklin, Senior Vice President of Digital at Fox Sports.

Less than three weeks ago, Fox Sports rolled out the Fox Soccer Vertical Control Room, delivering content exclusively for vertical screens on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. 

The impetus behind the first-of-its-kind initiative was basketball sensation Caitlin Clark. While she was changing the face of her sport, she was also changing how it's covered. 

With young fans a big part of the equation, Fox put a camera and a separate control room on Clark exclusively, even when she wasn't sinking long-distance 3-pointers.

"Half the time, you know, she doesn't have the ball. She's on defense. She's sitting on the bench, she's resting. She's moving on offense without the ball. So this is just a unique angle that no one's really ever seen before. At that time, people couldn't get enough of Caitlin Clark," Bucklin said.

That experiment paved the way for Fox Sports' new vertical delivery just as two major soccer events arrived: Copa América and Euro 2024. Different from sitting in front of a horizontal screen is that now the audience can engage with their comments landing on the screen. Instead of just a sports show, there's a new community.

"Whether it's commentary, commenting, whether it's, you know, putting different emojis, whether it's double-tapping and liking as much as possible," Melissa Ortiz, Host of Fox Soccer Now.

Fox Sports says they're still in the 'third inning' of developing their new vertical platform and that there's more to come.