There are few more social experiences than watching sports. As any fan can tell you, going to a game or a match is always more exciting than sitting at home, watching alone. Even if you don’t like the sport you’re watching! That’s why creating a social network specifically for sports seems like kind of a no-brainer.
Fanatix, U.K.’s leading social network dedicated entirely to sports, announced Tuesday that it has launched its U.S. app.
What fanatix provides is a personalized stream of sports content, everything from news updates, tweets, video clips, live scores and statistics. It also allows for easy sharing of content in what they call “huddles,” or group chats for fans.
While fanatix has always covered US sports fixtures, they will now be pulling in data from Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and other sources to support the team specific club feeds available on the app.
In an e-mail interview with VatorNews, Will Muirhead, fanatix Founder and CEO, said that coming to the U.S. “presents a big opportunity for us. How big? I don't know, but we feel like we're bringing something new to US sports fans – and there's a lot of of 'em!”
The timing of the move into the U.S. is deliberate. Muirhead calls October through December "the most jam-packed time in American sports," with the World Series (which the app actually just missed), the NFL season at the mid-way point, the NBA season starting Tuesday night and the college football season about to start.
The app, which launched in October 2011, has surpassed 250,000 downloads and has a daily active user base of more than 35,000. The average fanatix user, who are mostly 13-24 year old men, accesses the app five and a half times a day, and the average registered user accesses the service over 10 times a day.
The social network also announced that it has securing an $1 million in funding from angel investors, bring its total fundraising to $2 million.
It is currently available on iOS, but an Android app should be coming shortly, Muirhead said.
While there are a number of players looking at the same space, apps such as Thuuz, Bleacher Report, PlayUp and others, Muirhead says that its Huddle feature, where groups of likeminded sports fans can come together, separates from fanatix from the competition.
The philosophy behind fanatix, he said, is connecting fans.
“We started fanatix because we found ourselves watching sport alone at home and we all knew that there were tens, if not hundreds, of our friends following each game, we just didn't know who exactly or where they were,” he said. :We felt fanatix could provide a social/mobile companion to the armchair sports fan to keep them in touch with friends and up to date with supporting content and opinion.”
What the creators did not initially plan for, though, as to have people using the app when there were not live games going on.
“They started using it a lot and that really opened our eyes to the possibilities that social meets mobile provides for the sports fan. The way fans consume sport is changing fast and we hope to continue to be one of the pioneers in that movement.”
The app is also about aggregating content. Every NBA team has a YouTube channel, an Instagram account, a Twitter account, a Facebook account, a blog and hundreds of other media entities that report on the team, Muirhead says. With all of those outlets, it can be hard to get a handle on all the content out there, so fanatix pulls it together and makes it “socially relevant to each user.”
Fanatix has been selected by Manchester City, ESPN, Eurosport and a range of other sports
media entities to help them engage second screen sports audiences, especially during live broadcasts.
The company is not yet monetizing, but Muirhead says that they will be soon.
(Image source: http://www.fanatix.com/)