In the UK, the summer of 2012 is already being looked back on as the British summer of sport. It kicked off with a traditionally poor performance by the English football team in the Euros, followed by a much more successful Olympics and Paralympics held on home soil. All three events were a national and televisual spectacle, but it would seem that the second screen saw plenty of action, too. And so did fanatix, the mobile-first social network for sports fans, which is touting some encouraging growth and, carried by that momentum, is today launching in the U.S.
The UK startup has also revealed that it’s raised a second round of funding: $1 million from an unnamed group of angel investors, bringing the total raised to around $2 million. The new capital is being used to fuel the company’s expansion across the pond — conquering America isn’t cheap. In the U.S. (and elsewhere) fanatix faces plenty of competition, both dedicated mobile social apps for sports fans, such as PlayUp, SportsYapper, SportStream etc., and more general second screen apps like Zeebox or GetGlue.
Similar to much of the competition, fanatix’s iOS app lets sports fans ‘check-in’ to sports events where they’ll see a personalised stream of related content – news updates, Tweets, video clips, live scores and statistics. But where the app appears to have got the second screen experience right is its “huddles” feature, which enables sharing of content in groups, a form of group chat dedicated to a specific sporting event, such as a football match. Fans love to swap banter, and replicating that social experience on the second screen is a no-brainer.
To that end, fanatix says that its average user is now accessing the app an average of four times a day, so not just during live events, while the app has been downloaded 250,000 times since it launched in October 2011, claiming a daily active user base of more than 35,000.
As for the U.S. launch, it’s being timed to coincide with a whole bunch of sports events across the pond that I don’t pretend to understand (or care about), such as “the World Series, the NFL at the midseason mark, the 2012-13 NBA season, and college football bowl season,” according to the press release. But whatever — as of today, American sports fans have a new second screen experience to load up on their iOS devices and another place to talk smack.