FanFeedr is a relatively new startup that aims to provide sports fans with real-time news about their favorite sports, teams and players. Their website aggregates a ton of content, news, videos, and tweets and lets people pick and choose which news they want to see. I’m very big on the concept of aggregation and saving people time (my weak attempt at this is with Sports Biz Feed), and I think FanFeedr looks promising as a personalized sports news aggregator.
One of my favorite things about the site is that when you first visit, a helpful screen pops up to tell you what to do. When people first visit a new site, not knowing what to do is often a barrier to signing up and utilizing the site, so this really helped clarify things for me. I also love the fact that they utilize Facebook Connect to offer a simple sign up process.
The site utilizes social elements by enabling people to follow their friends and see what news they’re interested in. Fans can easily comment on, email, rate, or share any articles they read via Twitter or Facebook. This is accomplished by a nice horizontal ribbon that appears at the bottom of the screen when you click through to see an article.
FanFeedr also has an iPhone app and a robust set of APIs for publishers to take advantage of. I’m really looking forward to following this company’s growth.
When Jeff Brunelle, from Carrot Creative, said he would be happy to put me in touch with FanFeedr’s founder/CEO, Ty Ahmad-Taylor, I had to take him up on it. Please see below for some questions Ty answered via email, after we had a nice phone conversation last week.
1) Where did the basic concept of FanFeedr as a personalized, real-time sports news aggregator come from?
The core concept came from a problem I had myself: I spent far too much time hunting and pecking around for sports news and information on multiple websites. Twitter was emerging at this time last year, and I also saw some of the conceptual success my friends at FanSnap experienced with their event-ticketing vertical.
2) What kind of sports fans do you think will use FanFeedr?
We believe that we can capture most of the market, from the casual fan to the Fantasy Sports player, primarily because the consumption lens is similar to Twitter and Facebook, and much less editorially-driven. Specifically, you can get all of the news about your favorite teams, or some of it, or just bits of it (e.g. “just show me video about my team”) in an easy-to-use manner.
3) The site has a nice mix of features that are news-focused and focused on sharing/socializing. Which features do you think are most important and make FanFeedr special?
Without getting too abstract, and comparisons to Rothko are both appreciated and deflected, often at the same time, we are trying to address a user’s media consumption needs along their social graph.
4) What has surprised you the most about the sports industry since you started working on FanFeedr at the end of 2008?
I came from the music industry when I worked at MTV Networks. Pop, rock, hip-hop and country. Sports people are as passionate as music people, but the level of detailed knowledge about the game continues to astound me.
If you go see a great concert, you will hear music person say: “Minus the Bear has one of the best hooks I have heard in the last five years.”
5) What’s next for FanFeedr?
We are adding Fantasy Sports lifestreaming: right now, if you are in a Fantasy Football league, your wins, losses, player drops and adds are not exposed to anyone besides the 7, 9, or 11 other people that you play with. We want to allow you to expose your activity to your social graph (i.e. friends) on FanFeedr, Facebook and/or Twitter.
6) Where do you see real-time sports news going in the next year or so?
As more athletes get onto Twitter, you are going to see greater connections with fans, as the final barrier to sports consumption, what the athlete thinks, becomes less opaque.
7) What do you think is the biggest opportunity for teams and leagues to utilize social media?
The teams and leagues can use social media for much better CRM. The Oakland A’s don’t have the clearest picture of what their fans do online, for example, because they haven’t done a good job of painting a picture of those fans. Put another way, social media inverts the retail store paradigm: a sports brand doesn’t own the store (which is Facebook, Twitter or MySpace.) The brand is a leasing space, and has to create an pleasant experience for users in those media.
8) If you had $1 million to spend on FanFeedr right now, what would you do with it?
You can’t shoot, edit and distribute “Hangover II” for that amount, so focusing on the core business: