User generated sports debate content provides app with monetizable meta data
By: Don Hauka
Henri Holm and Allen Ezer have discovered the secret of turning sports fans’ trash talk into meta data gold.
And that’s positioned their FanDom Sports Media Corp. (CSE: FDM) (OTC: FDMSF) at the forefront of monetizing the final frontier of the multibillion-dollar sports industry business — the fans’ passion for the game.
“It’s about tapping into the passion,” says Holm, CEO & President. “It’s finding those like-minded sports fans who are passionate at that exact moment in the stadium or wherever they’re taking in the action, though when the clock runs out the game is just beginning.”
Holm, Ezer and the FanDom team have just launched the FanDom Sports App, enabling fans to interact, debate and argue on selected sports trending issues in a structured way, as well as test their knowledge of sports topics and get rewarded for their participation. It provides an engaging social platform for aficionados to engage in “FanFights,” where they debate issues like whether Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever, are the Las Vegas Knights for real, or just about anything else.
“It’s a sports bar in the palm of your hand,” says Ezer, Chief Operating Officer. “This is a mobile application that will revolutionize how sports fans connect.”
Using the app’s “argument engine,” the opinionated dialogue generated by FanFights is measured and scored to decide winners and losers. Winners are rewarded with FanCoins and even losers get rewards — although not as much as the winners. Fans also have access to a host of professional athletes through “off the field” branded and custom content on the app, as well as in-person at sponsored events. All this activity generates monetizable meta data.
By letting the fans generate the content, FanDom Sports is stepping into the same arena as Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter. Facebook, the biggest social media content generator actually generates none of its own content. Like these hugely successful social media giants, FanDom Sports’ App doesn’t need to generate its own content, as sporting events happen daily.
“You don’t have to create anything,” says Holm. “We own no content, we own no sports team, and we own no digital rights except for the ones that are written into FanFights. This market is totally under-served.”
Content is generated by users making their case for their one side of an argument, commenting on the conversation and giving thumbs up or down. Users might start with a small group of friends (or “a crew”) but can swiftly expand their circle to engage other fans. Enabling them to engage in a battle of quips with real people in real time gives the app an edge, says Holm.
“It’s competitive — it’s not solitaire against the machine, it’s not computer chess. It’s a real event, actual things taking place by other human beings, not bots, not algorithms or anything else,” he says.
“We are raw, authentic and fresh every time you open up the app.”
That rawness is what convinced TSN’s James Duthie to feature the app on his Rubber Boots podcast, which follows trending sports stories and topics. Ezer says as a primary sponsor, Fandom Sports is in select company, which includes big brand sponsors who also tie into their key demographics and business model.
“It was kind of flattering because Duthie said ‘I would love to have you guys on board because you guys are into that raw, authentic fresh feel,'” says Ezer. “Meanwhile they’re turning other sponsors away who don’t quite fit their demographic.”
The Rubber Boots podcast hits the demographic that Fandom Sports is aiming for. Duthie sets up the argument for the FanFight and encourages listeners to download the app. Prizes and other offers help to sweeten the pot. So far, the partnership between podcast and sports app is producing results.
“What we’re seeing is all of his #Rubber Boots FanFights are bringing massive reaction, increased voting, and compounded downloads within hours of each episode,” says Ezer. “It’s working — we’re getting traction and we haven’t even really pushed yet.”
FanDom Sports also has a partnership with Dash Radio and have launched a bi-weekly, hour-long FanDom Sports talk show hosted by radio and voiceover personality Rich Rubin. The show features sports fans, celebrity and athlete guests in a no-holds-barred environment where callers join in the arguments. Dash Radio is the digital world’s leading all-original radio network with a roster of 80-plus stations curated by more than 300 DJs, creators and influencers.
Dash Radio President Scott “DJ Skee” Keeney says having seen the app in action, he knows FanDom Sports is hitting their target demographic — the passionate sports fan who has something to say and wants to be engaged via a mobile-based platform for ease of use. And like a team built to go deep into the playoffs, Keeney says the FanDom Sports app is no lightweight.
“I would not have gotten involved with FanDom Sports if I thought it was just a fad,” says Keeney.
“If you turn on the major sports networks, the programming slate has shifted to topical debate shows. Fandom is taking this concept to an app, and allowing fans to let their voice be heard. The category of sports fans who want their individual voice heard is a very under-serviced category.”
Keeney also says the FanDom Sports revenue model works well because it’s based on audience engagement.
“Anytime you have audience and engagement, monetization isn’t very difficult, especially in the sports category which is highly friendly to brands,” he says.
Engagement is at the heart of the FanDom Sports Media’s monetization model, which has multiple potential revenue streams, which include various forms of advertising and sponsorship. But the “true pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” is the meta data generated by the user behaviour based on the results from FanFights and accumulation of FanCoins.
The ability to track which FanFights users participate in — for what sport, with what result, and how often — provides valuable information. This digital footprint will be supported by a Blockchain-enabled app economy in partnership with IBM’s industry leading “Hyperledger” technology.
“Now you have this engagement level, so you can start measuring what is trending up, what’s trending down, what’s hot what’s not,” says Holm.
“There’s a wealth of meta data that you can start harnessing in a very short period of information. Three hours is enough time to tell you what’s really happening in sports media.”
With the North American sports market space alone worth an estimated $75 billion, finding a way to tap into a new source of revenue like the pure — and inexhaustible — passion of sports fans forge a potentially lucrative link between traditional revenue streams like ticketing and merchandising, and the growing mobile economy. The global games market will reach $108.9 billion 2017 out of which 42% is mobile consumption. Holm says FanDom Sports is positioned to capitalize on this changing consumer behavior.
“It’s okay to pay for your entertainment in bite-size bits,” he says. “You don’t have to commit to 24 months for a cable subscription. You can buy one media file at a time. People are shifting away from subscription-based models.”
Like any winning sports team, FanDom Sports has an experienced, deep management squad. Holm, a Harvard Business School Alumni, has over 20 years of international hands-on strategy execution experience. His most recent executive positions include the CFO role at Intigral Corp., a leading provider of video products, billing and sports content services, and Senior Vice President at Rovio Entertainment, where he oversaw the development and growth of the highly successful Angry Birds franchise across Asia.
Ezer is a capital markets and corporate finance professional with more than a decade and-a-half of investment advisory, trading, corporate strategy, product launch, and funding experience, coupled with start-up business management skills. He started his career with a “Tier-1” chartered Canadian bank and transitioned into product and operational start-up, strategic partnership and channel management consulting roles. He’s worked in the financial services, defence technology, mining, manufacturing, and international distribution sectors. His current and previous directorship tenures include Audit and Corporate Governance committee Chair positions for multiple public companies.
Bringing that experience to bear, FanDom Sports Media has created a unique social media platform that gives fans a chance to be heard — and perhaps even become an all-star. Who knows? Win enough FanFights and you may be the next big pop sports analyst.
“This is the platform where you are the superstar,” says Holm. “Your fan profile will be such that people want to follow and hear what you have to say.
“You can be that really knowledgeable sports guy who has something meaningful to say. You don’t have to be that celebrity who has two million followers on their Twitter account. This is the big difference in the business model that exists today from the early 21st century.”
And all by using an app where you fight with you thumbs, not your fists.