Apr 6, 2022 Tim McManusESPN Staff Writer PHILADELPHIA -- The popcorn: Get it ready. At 48 years old, Hall of Fame wide re...
Fan Controlled Football (FCF) is a new category of interactive entertainment that blurs the line between traditional sports and video games, with a fan-controlled league that puts owners (you!) in control of everything from real-time play calls to jersey designs.
Video games and esports have dramatically changed consumer expectations for entertainment. Younger fans now require short form content, digital distribution and interactivity, paving the way for the skyrocketing use of platforms like Twitch.
As leagues and teams are scrambling to find new ways to connect and engage, FCF presents fans with a next-gen solution.
How does it work? It all starts with choosing a team.
Meet the Glacier Boyz
The Glacier Boyz, an OG squad, are known for talking smack and then backing it up. Their squad is built around the team’s unique culture with a focus on flashy offense and ball-hawking defense, with a whole lotta swagger thrown in.
FCF is both an exciting brand of highly competitive football and an engaging digital game
where fans are a real part of their team's success.
Each team is led by famous owners who actively engage their fans to help make all of their team's key decisions. FCF games are played on a set designed exclusively for the digital audience and all games are streamed live on Twitch, giving fans at home a truly interactive sports experience.
- Multi-year content distribution agreement with Amazon's Twitch
- Centralized model enabling shared services across teams for maximum efficiency and production value
- Interactive experience adds scalable digital revenue streams on top of the established models for pro-sports monetization
- Global reach of 100M+ rabid fans enabled through organic involvement of famous team owners
Fans call the shots like a
real-life video game
Fans interact with their team owners, who give advice as part of their live commentary during every game.
Fans select from the best of eight play options based on the game situation, with a recommendation engine built in partnership with IBM Watson.
Call the right play and earn FanIQ - as fans climb the leaderboard they unlock greater access and power for running their team.
Live stream + real-time play calling integrated directly into the viewing experience across desktop, mobile and connected TV.
A game where the
fans and the players are on the same team
Participation is free and all fans have a voice,
but not all fans are created equal.
Fans earn FAN IQ by engaging in the FCF ecosystem, voting, drafting players, calling plays, consuming and creating content, engaging with partners, recruiting fans to their team and more.
The more FAN IQ you earn, the more you rack up badges and reach higher levels on the leaderboard. As you level-up, your voting power increases relative to other fans of your team, and your badges provide special powers and boosts during the weekly draft and games.
FCF presents a unique opportunity for sports fans to actually get out what they put in, and truly make an impact for their team's success on the field.
The FCF is making fantasy football a reality.
Influential team owners drive awareness + fandom
Rather than using the traditional model of sports teams being tied to a home city, the FCF has created unique brands for each team that align with the famous fans in their ownership group.
In Season v1.0, the league was comprised of the hard hitting Beasts, ultra cool Glacier Boyz, party animal Zappers and the reigning People's Champions, the Shoulda Been Stars.
When the league expanded by four teams with the Ballerz Collective, we worked with prominent members of the NFT community—including Steve Aoki, Jack Settleman, Cynthia Frelund, Jamal Anderson and Ronde + Tiki Barber—to create the Bored Ape Football Club, Kingpins, Knights of Degen and 8oki.
FCF fans choose to join the squad they most identify with, creating die hard fandom with no geographic borders.
Famous Team Owners actively engage with their fans to determine their team’s unique strategy—from the team names and logos (which were all fan submissions), to the players that get drafted and the type of offense they run.
Team Owners drive awareness of their team and the league by actively promoting on social, creating content around team and league votes, co-streaming their games on Twitch and participating in podcasts, interviews and more.
Team Ownership Groups were formed by pairing influential celebrities with big name NFL players. Combined, we tap into a social-influencer base reaching more than 100 million followers.
Backed by A-list VCs, Hall of Fame QBs, and the cofounders of Bleacher Report and Reddit
FCF closed a Series A round in December 2021 led by Animoca Brands and Delphi Digital with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Verizon Ventures, Talis Capital, Correlation Ventures, Next10 Ventures, Basecamp Fund, Gemini Frontier Fund, 6th Man Ventures, Jump Crypto, Red Beard Ventures, Spartan Capital, NGC Ventures.
Other notable equity owners include:
- Twitch - owned by Amazon
- Joe Montana - NFL Hall of Fame QB
- Alexis Ohanian - cofounder and former CEO of Reddit
- Dave Finocchio - cofounder and former CEO of BleacherReport
- Sebastian Borget - co-founder of The Sandbox
Our vision from day one was to put fans into the game like never before, and that includes the owner's box. In Season v1.0, we launched Republic campaigns for each of the OG teams, all of which sold out. We're thrilled to be able to open another round of equity in each of those teams, as well provide an initial offering for each team in the Ballerz Collective. We're blessed to be backed by some of the best investors on the planet, but at the end of the day FCF doesn't work without you, the fans. Join us!
Major distribution partners include Twitch and NBC Universal
Our vision and execution thus far has attracted key strategic and distribution partners for the league, extending our reach to fans across the globe.
Big brand sponsors include Progressive Insurance, Wendy's, Russell Athletic, Experian and Hornitos
FCF has secured multiple six-figure sponsorship deals for it's first season. These brands are looking for an authentic way to get in front of the highly coveted Male 18-34 audience that makes up the majority of the FCF fanbase. And FCF's mix of real pro football that plays like a video game for fans is something sponsors are very eager to attach their brand to.
A world-class broadcast from the FCF studio arena
Our unique venue is designed to create the cutting edge viewing experience that streaming audiences demand.
- All games are streamed live on Twitch and distributed on NBCLX, Peacock, Fubo Sports Network, and DAZN from our football soundstage at the historic Pullman Yards in Atlanta, GA
- Full control of the venue and set design akin to a motion picture production so as to maximize the digital experience
- Dramatically reduced overhead with only one lease and shared services and personnel across the entire league
- No travel - all players and coaches live in one location and are shuttled between hotel and venue maintaining a virus-free bubble
- Players and staff are in close quarters in the venue and nearby housing for the duration of the season, providing new opportunities for a full slate of original content to be produced in-house
A streamlined cost model, a dynamic revenue model, and an entirely new approach to the business of sports
FCF's business model is revolutionary when compared to traditional leagues.
Instead of playing in multiple venues across the country (which creates the need to replicate coaching and front office staffs in each market and imposes significant travel costs), the FCF uses a unified model of shared costs and services to ensure a far lower operational cost that other alternative football leagues. This creates a best-in-class cost model that will drive profitability early in the life cycle of the company.
FCF's approach enables multiple revenue streams: traditional sources including sponsorship, live game rights and merchandise alongside more modern digital monetization.
On the digital front, FCF employs a "freemium" video game revenue model whereby it is entirely free for fans to join and participate, with in-app micro transactions built into the virtual economy of Fan IQ. Additionally, through Twitch, FCF offers content-focused digital subscriptions to enable die hard fans with premium access inside the locker room and onto the practice fields.
With the addition of the Ballerz Collective, fans have the opportunity to purchase NFTs that give holders unique IRL utility—including increased voting power at pivotal moments of the game, VIP experiences, and signed memorabilia.
FCF is positioned at the intersection of two
traditional sports and esports
—providing a vast market opportunity.
Sports in the United States alone is a $75B industry, and football is king. Average franchise values in the NFL topped $3B in 2020 and show no signs of stopping.
According to NewZoo, esports total audience and revenue is forecasted to rise significantly over the next several years. Perhaps even more exciting, esports is projected to have more viewers than every pro sports league but the NFL in 2021. FCF is perfect positioned to take advantage of these trends
FCF is pioneering an entirely new category of interactive, fan-controlled pro sports
We have a chance to shape the future of sports, one where fan participation is just as important as the participation of the athletes on the field. We've been working since 2015 to make this dream a reality, and we have first mover advantage in a category we get to define. We also secured a patent for real-time play calling to help us "build a moat" to protect what we're creating.
A vision this bold needs some early validation:
Which is why we decided to purchase a new franchise in the Indoor Football League to test our fan-controlled ideas. We owned and operated the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles during the 2017 IFL season, and after 16 games we left with some tremendous results.
Our lead investor, Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture Partners, said "This is the most elaborate “proof of concept” that we’ve ever seen!"
Read his blog post on Medium to see why.
Flash forward to the star-studded talent making an impact on the league:
Outside of the D1 athletes we've brought into the league, we've been able to add some famous faces to the mix! With NFL legends and well-known personalities like Johnny Manziel, Josh Gordon, Robert Turbin, Martavis Bryant, Kelly Bryant, and Terrell Owens.
Led by a world-class team of seasoned entrepreneurs and industry vets
Our founding team at FCF has multiple venture backed successful exits under their belt, and some experience playing in the NFL too (only one of us can say that!). Our exec team is comprised of an incredible balance of big league (NFL, NBA, MLB) executives, other sports property executives (AFL, IFL, ABA), and true startup founders and execs that know how to get it done in the early stages of a business. We are built to win now, and in the future.