If you’re the kind of sports fan for whom a game isn’t complete until you’ve watched the highlights five to 10 times, there’s now an app for you.
Fivestar launched the Fivestar App today for those who want to both watch and rate sports highlights. The app, which is available for Android and iOS, doesn’t have an option for comments, which CEO and cofounder Erin McNeally said limits the possibility of negative comments and cyberbullying.
Unlike other video-based social media platforms, which add in animal videos and other types of content on top of sports highlights, Fivestars is curated specifically for sports. After logging in, users can upload and watch highlights and rate them on a scale of one-to-five stars
“We wanted to put the power back into the people’s hands and let the people decide who the best athletes are,” McNeally told Technical.ly. “That’s ultimately this mission that we’re headed down.”
The 15-person, Hanover, Maryland-based company was founded in August of 2021. McNeally said the company developed proprietary algorithms and machine learning for content curation, though she declined to offer details about the app’s development. Upon downloading, users can say whether or not they’re an athlete or a fan, as well as what sports they like to play (if any) and watch. Any user can upload highlights for any sport.
After a soft launch in June, the app boasts about 10,000 users, according to McNeally. She hopes that with Fivestar, sports fans can focus solely on sports and decide for themselves who the top athletes are.
“Sports is just such a big part of what we do in society,” McNeally said. “[The Fivestar app] could be used for multiple different reasons, and that’s why I think it appeals to the masses, really.”
So far, the company has completed fundraising, though McNeally again declined to share details. It’s also brought on six athlete ambassadors: lacrosse players Kyle Harrison, Trevor Baptiste and Kylie Ohlmiller; skateboarders Ryan Decenzo and Deon Harris; and women’s basketball player Angel McCoughtry.
Fans can currently rate the individual highlight, which collectively gives an athlete an overall rating on the app. In Phase Two of the launch, set to happen in the next four months, McNeally hopes to add a leaderboard so athletes can see how they measure up against others, as well as live feeds. She also plans to add an option for users to earn Fivestar coins as they do activities on the app and turn them in for prizes like swag, equipment or game tickets. On the tech side, she hopes to continue developing the software to add options like top plays of the day.
Longer-term, Fivestar plans to go international with its athletes. McNeally said it’ll stay in the US for most of 2022 and 2023, but hopes to spring into international markets afterward. She sees sports and related highlights as great global connectors.
“The beauty of highlights is it’s really an international language,” McNeally said. “You don’t have to speak [the language] to view a highlight and rate at one-through-five stars, and that’s why we’re so excited to branch out internationally.”
While Fivestar is only focused on highlights, the region has had a unique relationship with the overall sports tech scene. A lot of this is attributable to local laws around digital sports betting — one of the top marriages of sports and tech. After legalizing sports betting in 2018, the district still restricts access to most retail sportsbooks while maintaining its own troubled platform. In Maryland, voters approved sports betting in 2020 by a margin of 2 to 1. Multiple apps are available for betting in Baltimore.
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