launches with lofty claims but plenty of commercial partners

[UK] Being given its first marketing push today, London-based is making the rather lofty claim to be “Europe’s first sports social media site”.

Which is far too much hyperbole for what is essentially a site for sports fans that mixes professionally-produced branded channels with user-generated content in the form of discussion forums, video and other content sharing, and blogs.

That said, the company, which is founded by three Loughborough University alumni, all with a sports industry background, has already amassed an impressive range of commercial partners.

These include “superstar” bloggers such as England rugby international James Haskell, 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up and renowned jockey A.P. McCoy, and West Ham footballer Carlton Cole. OK, I’ll admit that the latter is pushing the superstar label a little far.

In return for contributing content, the athletes themselves get to promote their own sponsors, charities and other activities – so that, for example, tennis player Caroline Wozniacki’s page is being used to promote her affiliation with Adidas. There’s also the possibility of a share in ad-revenue.

Additionally, a number of big brands have signed on to have their own HD video channel on the site, such as Nike Football, Red Bull, Monster Energy, UFC, Laureus Sports and World Sport TV. There’s also a tie-in with Labrokes for a betting section and content from online video platform Brightcove.

As for sports fans, well they get to be the site’s editors, Peter Janes, Managing Director of Sportpost tells me. Except, of course, in the case of all those branded ‘premium’ channels. They can share content, upload video and take part in discussion forums and, err, blog.

Sportpost says that in the site’s testing phase the demographics of users tended to be male (over 90%) in the 18-40 age bracket (over 70%). While the vast majority are ABC1 (over 70%), university educated (over 50%) and “almost all have high disposable incomes.”

When I put it to Janes that Sportpost, at least on the surface, wasn’t entirely original and certainly not the first sporting social media site, he replied:

“The term sports social media is quite ambiguous. I agree, that single format user generated sites have existed before, for example. However, a multi faceted social media site such as this has never existed in Europe before. We have taken the successful models adopted in the US (Fannation, Yardbarker) and brought them to a European audience with different tastes.”

Presumably then, it’s the mixture of professionally produced content, including HD video, from Sportpost’s commercial partners and UCG that the company hopes will set it apart from competitors.

Well that clears that one up then. I think.

Sportpost is backed by angels and private investors, including the chef Raymond Blancto, to the tune of $600,000.