The Relish, a sports media company founded and led by women and targeted at underrepresented fans, launched a new video-based app on Thursday that enables users to add color commentary on sports-related topics.
Since its founding less than two years ago, The Relish has served as a media company with a heavy focus on video that has produced content relevant to female fans. That content has mostly lived on third-party social media sites, notably Facebook, and in a semi-weekly newsletter emailed to users.
(Courtesy of The Relish)
The launch of this app (currently only available on iOS) represents the next stage of its strategy to build an ecosystem for underrepresented fans with its own products.
The hope is that this will help the company to wean itself off social media as a primary publishing platform, enabling it to more easily monetize its newsletter subscribers and the 35,000-plus people who currently follow its Facebook page.
“We no longer think of third party platforms as our primary product, we think of them as supplementary,” said The Relish co-founder and CEO Ashley Wellington-Fahey.
This is something that has always been a part of the plan, she said. The long-term goal is to create a comfortable space where underrepresented fans, those who might have felt their voices have been suppressed on more male-centric sports sites, can express themselves about the sports topics they love and find most interesting.
“Our goal here is to democratize and reimagine the sports broadcast landscape and in doing so prioritize women and the voices you don’t typically hear from in sports,” said Wellington-Fahey. “They’ve always been there, but they’ve oftentimes been overlooked and underrepresented.”
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The app is similar to Sportscastr and Twitch in that it attempts to level the broadcasting world for sports fans. But it differs in the sense that, as of now, Relish users don’t comment on live-streamed events as they do on those platforms.
While Sportscastr and Twitch allow fans to comment on a host of live events that are streamed through their services, spanning live NFL games to MMA matches on Sportscastr and esports to Thursday Night Football on Twitch, The Relish sets the sports topics relevant to its user base, then allows fans to chime in via video with their own opinions.
The Relish CEO Ashley Wellington-Fahey. (Courtesy of The Relish)
The Relish might one day set its sights on live-event commentary, but that’s not a priority right now. Wellington-Fahey said the company believes the kinds of topics its fans are interested in remain relevant beyond just the two-to-three hours of a game.
“We think live serves a purpose in sports but we don’t believe that today’s fans necessarily need the live commentary,” she said. “It has to be real-time enough that it feels pertinent to what’s going on right now.”
In the app, fans can create profiles and add video commentary to the topics that The Relish team opens up for discussion. Broadcasters can use the app to edit their videos with basic tools, and can acquire followers who might be interested in what they have to say. The whole experience looks like a mash-up between a sports site and Snapchat.
“We’re starting from a position of letting fans be seen and heard in an environment that’s much safer for these audiences, which are so often the victim of trolling and negative experiences in other sports media spaces,” said Wellington-Fahey. “Let’s empower that fan to be able to turn the camera on themselves and give their own take on what’s happening.”