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Social Startups: Sportlobster Tool Tackles the Unruly Web for Sports Fans
Posted on September 3rd 2014
The Internet has had a huge impact on sports—from football to fencing. Nearly everything about any sport can be found online. Tweets, videos, blog posts, news articles, status updates, predictions, photos, schedules, results, and web pages, in fact, are overwhelming even the most tech savvy of sports fans. Pity the poor soul who wants to satisfy their passion for a particular sport amid the noise.
One solution is to aggregate all this content and pull out the interesting bits. For example, Kristi Dosh, author of the SportsBizMiss site and newsletter, curates and writes a fascinating assortment of college and professional sports articles.
But what if you wanted to tap the collective minds of dozens or hundreds of devotees of particular topics, from baseball to basketball? Or find all the best information about England right back Kyle Walker who missed the World Cup in Brazil because of an abdominal injury? Where would you go for that?
Sportlobster wants to be that place to help fans keep up with the information blitz.
The Sportlobster app, developed by the London-based startup of the same name, is the fastest-growing sport social network. Fans can predict the outcomes of sporting events they are interested in; write, share, and discuss blog posts with an audience that shares their interests; and connect with like-minded people that care about the same things they do. Those people may be other fans, former Formula One driver Mark Webber, or the most followed athlete in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, who has more than 29 million followers on Twitter and 96 million likes on Facebook. The company released the first public version of the app for iOS devices in October 2013 through Apple’s App Store.
“The light bulb moment came after I read a blog post about tennis star Novak Djokovic,” says CEO and co-founder Andrew Meikle. “It was a fantastic piece—informative, thought-provoking, and original. However, there wasn’t much interaction or response to the article. I thought, ‘How is the blogger supposed to attract readers?’ From this point, everything clicked and I realized the online experience for sports fans was fragmented. There was one website you visit for scores, another for making predictions, another to read sports news, another to interact online, and so on and so forth. It is even more of a disjointed experience if you are a fan of multiple sports. Essentially, I wanted to create a one-stop shop—a place that accommodates every sports fan and their needs.”
So rather than having to visit multiple sites or apps to get your daily sporting fix, Sportlobster consolidates and customizes the experience to your sport preferences. If you like tennis, for instance, you get a comprehensive experience based around it.
Meikle says PR professionals, marketers, and advertisers are able to engage with their fans more effectively on the platform because every interaction is more relevant. With a 500-character limit on lobs (posts), users can have more in-depth interactions with fans, athletes, teams, and brands.
“Sports fans love a debate, but they have previously been unable to address their point fully when there has only been a small amount of words to play with on other platforms,” says Meikle, who founded Sportlobster with Arron Shepherd. “Our ambassador and soccer star Michael Owen is a regular blogger on Sportlobster and the responses have been fantastic. There is always a huge amount of fan responses, which are passionate, insightful, and on topic—interactions you won’t find elsewhere. The interactions on Sportlobster have also added relevancy because lobs are directed into Fanzones, which are dedicated pages for your favorite sport, team or athlete, resulting in a feed populated with content you care about.”
Sportlobster plans to monetize in several ways, all of which will complement the user’s experience. As a fan of sports and a four-year soccer scholarship experience at West Virginia Wesleyan College, Meikle says he doesn’t want to see irrelevant and intrusive forms of advertisements spoiling the experience. The platform has introduced a gamification element, which will evolve into a revenue stream. And eventually, other revenue streams will include promoted lobs, merchandise, and ticket sales.
Since launching in April 2013, the startup has released its Android app, grown from three staff members to 46, and reached its biggest milestone—one million users. “We aim to have more sports organizations, clubs, and athletes on the platform soon. I predict that sports fans all over the world, whatever language they speak and whatever sport, team, or athlete takes their interest, will use Sportlobster as its No. 1 destination online.”
So far so good, as Sportlobster was recently announced as the official social media partner of Crystal Palace Football Club, which plays in the Premier League—the most popular football league in the world.