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Why Twitter dominates the social sports arena

Caitlin McGarry | Sept. 20, 2013
Twitter is a home run for connecting directly with fans, building a social platform, and keeping the excitement going after the game ends.

twitter

It's the big game. You've got your jersey on, HDTV tuned to the proper channel, and your smartphone in hand. It's not quite like being in the bleachers at the stadium, but with surround-sound, snacks, and social media, it might be even better.

Sporting events and Twitter go together like beer and bratwurst. The edge-of-your-seat drama and the ridiculous commercials lend themselves to rapid-fire tweets—plus Twitter's town-hall nature generates the kinds of conversations you might have with strangers at a game.

Other social networks have tried to recreate a Twitter-like experience for sports to capture the 33 percent of sports fans who use the microblogging service, but few—if any—have had even the tiniest measure of success. Instead of beating Twitter, many services have decided to join them, leveraging Twitter feeds within their own apps or finding some other way to let Twitter guide the second-screen experience for sports fans.

A case study
SportStream is not the first sports app to incorporate Twitter, but the company has pulled off something of a (dare I say it?) pivot. The platform launched last year with $3.5 million in funding from Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen as a curated social media stream for devoted sports fans.

The app's algorithms find the best sports voices—about 25,000 of them, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—and filter them based on the game you're watching or the teams you want to follow. But that assumes you don't want to find and filter those voices on your own. Most people have their social media sources pretty well sorted out.

"We [wanted to] go out there and tackle the world as an app provider," said SportStream CEO Bob Morgan. "What we found is that a lot of the major sports media companies had similar aspirations. We still have apps and they do a great job showcasing the content, but now we're partnering with a lot of folks—pro and collegiate teams—and our reach is achieved by working with major partners."

That means SportStream the company is more focused now on its services for teams than on competing for sports fans in the social sphere. This summer, the company launched SportsBase, a social media platform that a team, athlete, or university can embed into its website. If you're the University of Michigan and want to embed a curated Twitter stream, scoreboard, stats, and more for your school's teams, SportsBase helps you accomplish just that.

Fans don't get to add content sources to the real-time SportsBase streams—those are handpicked by the teams/schools/athletes themselves. The Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, and point guard Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors are just a few of SportStream's partners—Morgan expects handling the platform side will be the company's focus going forward.

 

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