Fanatix Partners With ESPN To Launch Social Mobile App For Cricket Fans

Biz dev deals don’t always bowl over readers, but in startup land they often point to good execution. Fanatix, the UK startup that offers a mobile-first app for sports fans to chew the fat, has done what looks like a decent bit of business. It’s partnered with ESPN to release a new vertical dedicated to cricket.

Powered by ESPNcricinfo, the new “fanatix Cricket” iOS/Android app pulls in news, scores, blog posts, images, video and other social media content from ESPN’s cricket brand, which claims to be the leading cricket destination online, even besting the BBC’s own cricket offering.

Billed as “social-first”, the app also incorporates fanatix’s “huddle” feature to let users talk smack debate the latest cricket talking points, either publicly or in private groups — huddles — with support for log in via Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

As with the startup’s original app, fanatix Cricket looks to be targeting both a second screen experience for use during cricket matches — the upcoming Ashes series is being touted as the ideal launch opportunity — but is also chasing the Long Tail of sports fandom, with content and features aimed at encouraging fans to check in more than just at match time.

“Cricket is perfect for a social environment; it lasts for hours, is full of controversial decisions and has a significant global diaspora that can be connected via the fanatix platform,” notes fanatix CEO and co-founder Will Muirhead in a statement.

And like the main fanatix offering, the new cricket app will be monetised via so-called native advertising; ads will appear in the app’s news streams, similar to ad formats found on Facebook and Twitter, delivering what the company claims will be “contextually relevant and engaging” ads to users. Well, that’s alright then.

Neither fanatix or ESPN want to comment on the commercial details of their cricket partnership, though my guess is it’s likely to involve at least a time-limited amount of exclusivity. What we do know, however, is that ESPN will market the new app to its 15m monthly unique users for the cricket vertical.

To that end, fanatix is also talking up the traction that it’s seeing overall. Monthly active users for the platform now sit at 4 million, apparently. That’s up from 1 million at the end of May, when the startup announced that it had raised an additional $1 million in funding, bringing the total raised to $3 million to date. It’s performing particularly well among 13- to 24-year-old males — a prime advertising demographic, notes the company.