This month, the Sabres organization rolled out two new ways to interact with the team through video and on your phone - Sabres DeskSite and the Club Sabres app. Both of them offer unique experiences for a small subset of Sabres fans, and if you're in one those groups, I think there's value to be found in these apps. Let's take a look.
The Sabres pump out a ton of video content every day during the hockey season. Pre-game and post-game interviews, features from Brian Duff and others, behind-the-scenes exclusives, the excellent Beyond Blue and Gold series, and of course, game highlights. It's a lot to keep up with, particularly through the clunky and ad-happy NHL.com video player.
Sabres DeskSite tries to solve that problem by downloading every video that the Sabres produce to your local computer. The good news is that the service works very well - the video file downloads in the background, appears in HD quality, and plays instantly, since they're already stored on your hard drive. But my favorite part of using DeskSite: no ads. Yes, the most annoying thing about NHL video - the 30 second ads that play without conscience or remorse before every video - do not seem to exist when using DeskSite. That alone makes this program worth using for video-hungry Sabres fans, but it comes with a catch.
Since the videos are being downloaded to your local machine, that means DeskSite takes up a good chunk of hard drive space. The default allotment for video storage is 7GB, though you can set the program to take up as much as 20GB or as little as 2GB. While this isn't too much of a problem for some machines, if you have an older computer, tablet, or smaller laptop, this space could come at a premium.
If you're interested in watching lots of Sabres.com video content, I think this program is worthwhile, though you'll want to make a few changes - turn off the annoyingly loud audio notification ("You've got video" - really, guys?) and adjust your settings to get only the video content that you want. For example, I've set DeskSite to only download features, highlights, and postgame video, which should help with the space issue. However, if you only want to watch the occasional highlight or feature, then you're probably fine just sticking with the team site and avoiding the hard drive usage.
You can download Sabres DeskSite here.
Club Sabres is an app marketed toward the youngest of Sabres fans. If friends and family have stopped singing the "How old are you?" verse on your birthday, you won't find much here, but as a way for youngsters to get to know the Sabres roster, Club Sabres offers a cute, simple way to do just that.
The app works kind of like a simplified, stylized version of the team's website. There's a home screen with fun news items like the O'Reilly brothers playing together and birthday and holiday wishes, but so far no preseason scores or recaps. There's a rudimentary game schedule, and some simple badges for kids to earn by interacting with the app.
I really hope Brian Gionta wears this exact outfit at his annual Fourth of July BBQ.
By far the best part of Club Sabres are the stylized portraits of Sabres players found on the team roster page. I mean, just look at these adorable guys:
I certainly hope the Sabres plan on using those portraits in other ways throughout the season, as they're just too good to use only in Club Sabres.
The other big selling point of the app is the trivia section, which features simple questions about Sabres players numbers, home countries, and nicknames in order to help kids get to know the roster better. I was disappointed to see that one of the questions was incorrect when I played it last week (I don't believe Brian Gionta wears #55) but other than that, both the Sabres and NHL History trivia provided a mild amount of fun, tough once again, the questions are geared towards the youngest of fans.
If you have a Sabres tyke at home and your family owns a tablet or smartphone, this app is a fun and cute way for them to interact with the organization, and it's safe for young'uns, as there's no way to interact with other users.
The Club Sabres app is available for download in the iTunes store and Google Play.