The best site on the net to help feed your sports fix.
by Bryan Crawford
As an NBA sports writer, one of my everyday rituals is to read the online sports section of every newspaper in every NBA city. If that sounds like a lot of reading, that’s because it is; especially when you consider there are some cities, including my home town of Chicago which has more than one daily publication. All told, I may read somewhere around 40 sports sections daily, not to mention sites like ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, various sports blogs like Ball Don’t Lie, and a countless number of articles all over the web. And now with the NBA preseason over and the regular season in full swing, the information out there has just tripled in number. So you can imagine how happy I was to be introduced to a site like FanFeedr.com by Jeff Brunelle over at Carrot Creative.
FanFeedr is a sports news aggregation website that integrates with Facebook Connect to bring you, the user, personalized, real-time sports news with a social media and social networking twist. For example, say you come across an article or blog post written about your favorite team or favorite player on Fanfeedr; from the site you can email that article, comment on it, or post it on Facebook or Twitter to share with your friends or followers. It also gives you the ability to vote either thumbs up or down on said article as well.
FanFeedr also gives you real time scores of games being played and it also pulls and posts tweets and twitpics from various users of Twitter, all based on your personal preference (NBA, NFL, MLB, etc). There’s even an iPhone app.
The site was created as a “one-stop-shop” with the sports fan in mind who loves to follow their favorite teams or favorite players and who never tires of talking about them and reading new information on them. It was also created for internet “power users” like me who scour the web on a daily basis looking at different sports stories.
Ty Ahmad-Taylor, CEO and founder of FanFeedr, is a “big media” veteran that has worked at places like Viacom, Comcast, MTV, and the New York Times. He figured out and understood that the average sports fan may hit five or six sites per day in order to get the information that they’re looking for and recognized a need in the marketplace for a site like FanFeedr which combines everything, all in one place.
The site is still in beta and Ty admits that it’s a continuous work in progress that has new wrinkles added to it every week. The cool part about that is those new wrinkles are based on end-user input making it a site truly built by the people, for the people. I recently had a chance to speak with Ty about the site and he had these things to say:
SLAM: For those who’ve never heard of FanFeedr.com before, how long has the site been in existence?
Ty Ahmad-Taylor: We started in December of 2008 and the site launched June 16 of this year (2009).
SLAM: Can you tell me how many users the site has?
TAT: In the month of September we had 50,000 unique users, in July we had 3,000 users and in August the number was somewhere around 17,000. So we’re very happy with the growth.
SLAM: How did the idea for a site like this come about?
TAT: I built MTVmusic.com and that basically is a search vertical for music videos with a social layer on top of it. So you can go [to the site] and find all the latest videos and you can comment on top of it [the videos]. So, it occurred to me when I left there [MTV] after two years that nobody was doing the same thing in sports and we did some customer research and people were like, ‘Yeah, that would be cool because we have to go to four or five different sites to get all of our information.’ So basically, we’re taking what I would call a media consumption paradigm which is, give me all the information the things I’m passionate about—in this case we’re focusing on sports—and then we blend it with all the social gestures that sit on top of it. How you comment on it and how you share it with friends.
SLAM: How did you decide to incorporate Facebook Connect into your site?
TAT: By using Facebook Connect as our authentication system, it makes the conversations more authentic. More importantly, the friends that you have on Facebook are the friends you being to FanFeedr so you automatically get all of their social activity as well.
SLAM: What do you think is the real value of FanFeedr to sports fans?
TAT: We’ve created a site that has all of the sports trends and what people are talking about in the world of sports and combined it all into one website. So it saves you from having to go to multiple sites and it makes all of that material much easier to get your hands on.
SLAM: How does the site work in terms of the delivery of sports information?
TAT: Well, for the unauthenticated user [those who don’t sign in with Facebook connect] we’re doing something called “lazy personalization” where basically we’re using your IP address which is unique to your computer and with that IP address we know exactly where you’re physically located. So with that we can give you all of the information on your local team. The funny statistic in that is that 57 percent of people in a metropolitan area are “out of market” sports fans meaning that 57 percent of the people who live in a place are not necessarily fans of the local teams. So we don’t believe that this is serving everybody’s needs, but it’s the best assumption that we can make about what you would like because of your physical location.
SLAM: And how does it work for the authenticated user who signs in using Facebook?
TAT: So what we do there is we’re scouring information and material from 5,000 sources. Those sources include local newspapers in the area, blogs in the area or blogs about the teams that you follow, and blogs by the beat writers for the local papers that you read, which are a completely separate domain and are somewhat difficult to find. We’re also ingesting material from Yahoo!, ESPN, the athlete’s official Twitter feeds, and all of that material is presented to you in real time in your fan feed. You can also sort your content to just show blog posts or photos or fantasy updates and you can slice and dice the information however you feel. People like to consume information on their favorite teams on a regular basis and part of knowing everything about your team is having the most up-to-date information. So we’ve focused on taking all of the latency out of the system and delivering the information in as close to real time as possible.
SLAM: So as a sports fan, an individual—authenticated user—can get all of the information that only concerns them or that’s important to them.
TAT: Yes, that’s exactly right. The idea is to be the ‘Table of Contents’ for sports.
SLAM: On a larger scale—looking forward—what would you like to be able to accomplish with a site like this?
TAT: Our goal is to make everyone’s life easier. We’d like to continue to drive more traffic to our publishing partners and continue to provide value to fans. [From the fan perspective]there’s a higher order that’s not being served in terms of pointing people to all the best news and content everywhere and that’s the function that we’re trying to play.