There are a whole host of second screen apps catering to sports fans (the UK’s Fanatix springs to mind), so it’s curious that Bantr, which sees its full global launch today, is billing itself as primarily a first screen experience for soccer fans. That’s because, along with powering real-time discussions and opinion before, after and during games, the web-based app pipes in live in-game data, such as text commentary and stats, meaning that it’s possible to use Bantr even if the match isn’t on television or you aren’t at the game. It’s also been designed to let fans follow multiple teams, games and leagues at the same time, which is of course how the more hardcore footy fans follow the beautiful game anyway.
Along with today’s international push, which also sees a newly designed version 2.0 of the app debut, Bantr has announced that it recently secured $320k in a second round of angel funding, bringing the total raised by the UK company to $600k.
After spending a year in beta, where it amassed around 15,000 users, Bantr now includes all 4 English leagues, the SPL, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, Europa Cup, Internationals and the top 10 European leagues from the German Bundesliga to the Russian Premier League. Users choose what teams and leagues they want to follow, or even individual matches and other Bantr users, after which any related activity shows up in their feed. This includes official match updates and stats, a real-time view of which players are on the pitch, along with what other Bantr users who are following the same games or teams have to say. The discussion feature very much resembles Facebook’s wall — users can reply, as well as Like each other’s updates — and there are also on-going polls so that Bantr can give a sense of fan sentiment towards a club’s management and Board, which is a really nice feature.
I took the app for a proper spin during the recent Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool game (I’m an avid Spurs fan, in case you didn’t know already) and found the new UI worked really well, feeling familiar enough for less tech-savvy users but also adapted sensibly for the intended experience. (It also helped that Tottenham won!). Community-wise, there were enough people using Bantr for it to be lively, though it still feels like early days in terms of traction.
As for first screen claims, unless Bantr can pipe in live video (impossible due to rights) or audio, it seems as much a second screen experience as its many competitors. That said, lacking is a dedicated mobile app, although I’m told this should arrive by the end of the year.
If you want a more stats-driven and dedicated second screen soccer experience, it may be worth checking out competitor Squawka, which is also based in the UK. The web app allows users to compare teams and players and actions in real-time, generating a live Player Performance Score which can be used to compare the performance of teams and players, along with a social element not dissimilar to Bantr.