Get Ready for fan-based social networking. In the coming weeks, a number of sports fan-based social networking sites are set to launch.
The new offerings, many of them backed by big bucks, will offer a chance for individuals to share their support for a team (or animosity toward a rival) and a big part of their appeal will be the use of video.
Recently launched REALFANS.TV, is the latest of a number of fan networks built on Marc Andreessen‘s Ning network creation platform. REALFANS aims to let fans express themselves whether they’re into creating musical instruments or just want to remind Cowboys fans how bad their team is (below).
Among other sites using Ning to build networks is NFL Talk, created by former Eagles lineman, Ian Allen, who wanted an outlet to give pros a chance to say what they’re really feeling rather than have it rehashed in the words of the working press.
FanSpot.com boasts ‘there’s so much to do on Fanspot, we could’ve called it “Funspot.”‘ A slogan that’s about as entertaining as the rest of this site, which was early to the game but, unfortunately, looks like it was designed in 1996.
More innovative web 2.0 sites like the up and coming Fan U, launching later this week, should take what FanSpot has tried to do to the next level offering a community-based hub for sports news and information.
Pit Crew Live offers a place for NASCAR fans to congregate online and last year Nike teamed up with Google for soccer social networking site Joga.com. The site offers an online soccer channel called JogaTV, while Nikefootball.com (not the American kind) offers fans an opportunity to upload their own videos.
Above: JogaTV Episode 1
If done well, as Nike has, people will flock to these sites. Unfortunately, Nike’s ulterior motive means the site is only useful so long as it continues to be an effective marketing tool.
Up until these recent social networking and video distribution tools were available, sports communities found a home in 90s era message boards for lack of a better location. During any given college game there is a message board thread of fans talking about the action, often while watching or listening online.
There is a wide open opportunity for sites to build successful communities by letting fans specify their agendas – and this will be the year that fan communities find their voice.
Ben Homer is a contributing writer from OnlineVideoWatch