We love connecting with smart people who have an idea and a passion and are finding ways to make it go. One we came across recently is FANTOM, a Facebook-based platform that is building a community of personalities looking to engage and aggregate shared voice around events big and small. Want to put a nice event like Ultimate Frisbee on a streaming platform? FANTOM can help with a home. If you are a rising media personality with no real way to get an audience, FANTOM can help deliver an audience for you. If you are an established media personality looking to expand into a younger more digital savvy voice, FANTOM can help you there too. If you are a club sport like soccer or even baseball and want to have your games reach a niche audience, FANTOM can help there. Maybe you are a college student with a sports entrepreneurial push, then FANTOM can amplify your work. It has to be quality, it has to be authentic and it has to have a unique voice.
FANTOM delivers live sports to social. They have already partnered with 30+ organizations to air their games and 20+ sports media personalities on original content that brings FANS closer to the field.
How is it working? We caught up with co-founder Zack Rosenberg to learn more about FANTOM and Facebook.
Facebook is becoming the home of niche sports, how can FANTOM augment or grow communities?
Up until now TV has decided what you get to watch. But because of the advanced targeting of Facebook, sports that otherwise would not have seen the light of day can reach millions of people. It’s not that these communities didn’t exist, it’s that they didn’t have a place to congregate. And that’s what FANTOM has done. Whether it’s Ultimate Frisbee or Indoor Football, there is an audience for these sports. We believe the one show for one million people model is dead and that a hundred shows for 10,000 people each is the future.
How did the idea come about?
FANTOM had humble beginnings, when my cousin [Ari Temkin, ESPN Radio host in San Antonio] and I as kids would record ourselves doing play-by-plays of games in our grandparents living room. Fast forward to 2017 when we had the revelation that there was an opportunity to disrupt the sports media landscape.
Having worked with more than 600 media companies over the last few years on building audiences through Facebook, it became very clear how unprepared everyone was. Many top media companies developed strategies that focused on moving traffic off of Facebook versus embracing the platform. Facebook has 2 Billion visitors every single day. And they are hungry for every type of content. It became clear that these major companies were set in their ways. It was this, plus an “aha” moment that there are sports fans beyond the major 4 leagues that get 95% of the coverage where FANTOM was born. This is an under-served audience hungry for content.
Whether it was one of the top media companies asking to define what a click-through-rate was or another tripling down on an app strategy that felt like it was circa 2002, no one seemed to know how to build themselves for Facebook.
When it became clear that everyone was trying to move traffic away from Facebook, who has 2 billion visits per day, versus embrace the platform, the idea for FANTOM was born. We bridged our childhood dreams with the realities of today.
What has the progress been like?
It’s no easy feat to take a castle. You’re always at a disadvantage and everything has to go precisely to plan. Taking the castle is the mantra that we use to keep us focused and progressing in the right direction, which is that we have to disrupt and topple existing media giants. We are really proud of what we have accomplished in the first year. We have broadcast from the World Series, the NBA Finals, aired more than 20 live games, have dozens of contributors from brand names, and partnered with over 10 leagues. Progress, like taking the castle, is calculated and focused. We are excited to continue on this trajectory and bring our fans closer to the field.
How have your participant shows been able to build an audience?
Building an audience comes from understanding the medium. Being authentic and being credible has allowed us to build an audience.
Why Facebook as the platform vs., say YouTube or another OTT service?
We believe that Facebook is the furthest behind in developing products for content creators, therefore it has the greatest opportunity. Facebook is just the starting point. We intend to expand and know that content has to be created specifically for each platform to ensure the greatest authenticity and credibility.
How will FANTOM engage in a space like colleges? Is it just for sports or can you be a FANTOM channel for other interests?
We know that college student’s viewing behavior has and will change considerably. To cord cutting, to mobile phones everything we create is with them in mind.
Our dream is certainly bigger than sports. But sports is the only area where we can be authentic and credible at this time.
Is there a place in terms of viewers or followers you think you can be at in six months or sooner?
While the size of our audience is an important metric, it is the influence we wield over them that we use as a barometer. Engagement, Shareability, Excitement (i.e. commenting) is what we are looking for as a metric of success. The rest is just noise.
Who is the audience and why would they come to FANTOM?
The audience is made up of people who have a great passion for sports, but do not have a place to congregate. They tend to be younger and male, but as our content slate broadens so will our audience. That is the beauty of Facebook.
What has been the biggest surprise thus far?
I will always answer this question the same way. We are still here.
Whats the biggest challenge?
Will always answer this question the same way. Manpower.
What is the value you can bring to a brand or a platform looking for exposure?
Through our newest product, Catapult [how else do you take a castle?], we can tie custom developed content through to a transaction. When great content engages with an audience, our influence will result in a desired result for the brand. Email Zack@watchfantom.com to find out more.
Where do you think the business can be in say, a year?
In one year I hope to have a castle of our own. And a brand that people will feel passionate about every time they see our content. If we can achieve that, we will make it to year three.