Lee and Venables back sporting MySpace launch

Terry Venables, England’s assistant coach and News of the World columnist, and Mike Lee, the media chief who helped steer London’s 2012 Olympic bid to success, are two of the big names behind a new website that seeks to offer a sporting version of community site MySpace.

Founded by Chris Ward, a keen runner and cyclist who was a marketing executive at Friends Reunited, iSporty – which was first called Tired and Tested – has veteran ITV sport presenter Gary Newbon and former Golf Punk editor, Tim Southwell also working on the project.

The site – presently soft-launched in beta format – aims at creating a community forum for grass-roots sporting participants, whether golf hackers, joggers, netball players or five-a-side footballers, who want to share their experiences, pictures and videos online.

“iSporty utilises social media to increase engagement, participation, attendance and profit on behalf of our clients,” said Ward.

Set up at an outlay of around £250,000, according to Ward, the site aims at generating significant sponsorship and advertising revenue once it has built up a regular audience of 50,000 subscribers. The site’s business aim is clearly to replicate the sort of success enjoyed by MySpace, the social networking website which now has 100 million accounts worldwide and which was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for $580 million in July 2005. Even Friends Reunited, set up in a spare bedroom of a husband and wife’s Barnet home as a part-time hobby, sold for £120 million to ITV in 2005.

iSporty is already claiming to be Europe’s largest sports social network website, although at present the site appears a little thin on content. There are just two interviews in its iSporty TV area, both from the website’s launch party in February, one of them incestuously with investor Venables (the other interview, with British skier Chemmy Alcott, includes the question: “When is the next Olympics?”). The interactive sports editor’s last blog entry was more than two months ago.

In its latest development, iSporty has launched an agency that helps brands and companies involved in sport communicate better with fans and players. “iSporty covers 350 sports for clubs and individuals at every level to organise and socialise and is now providing white labeled social media platforms directly to third party brands,” Ward said.

“When they score a goal, hit a good shot or run a good race it means as much to them as it does to Wayne Rooney or Paula Radcliffe. Active people need to be communicated with on that basis. Social media on the web is the place where consumers live their sports life like the pros and it enables brands and companies to engage them at the centre of their passion.”

“People that play sport are not online surfers. They don’t visit on the off-chance. They use the web to organise and socialise around their sport, debate the latest news, enter events and book travel.”

For further information or informal chat about sport and web 2.0 opportunities
Chris Ward – +44 (0)7932746591

Or visit the website by clicking here