October, 2008

Fantasy Sports Welcomed at Research Forum

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Twice a year, the Center for Digital Transformation at Penn State University holds a research forum and invites speakers to address a gathering of member companies on “emerging trends in technology and business.” This fall, the emerging trend was fantasy sports, and the speaker was Jeff Thomas, CEO of SportsBuff.com (which owns this site) and president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Thomas’ speech, titled “Fantasy Sports: Web Marketing’s Holy Grail,” provided corporate decision makers with an overview of the engaged fantasy sports consumer and the value of fantasy sports as a promotional tool. Thomas believes that all fantasy sports business leaders need to help spread the word to educate brand managers, business leaders, and sports marketers.

“Guests reported to me that the fantasy sports market was far bigger than they had thought, and Jeff’s statistics on user engagement definitely got people’s attention,” said Dr. John Jordan, executive director of the CDT.

Past speakers at the forum have included representatives of Google, Ernst & Young, IBM, Wachovia, Booz Allen Hamilton, Gartner, and Xerox.

Thomas has shared fantasy sports industry insight at Conferences in Montreal and Vancouver, and recently spoke to sports marketing students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School.


Lidge, Hinske to Battle Again … in Fantasy

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

On Wednesday night, it was Phillies closer Brad Lidge who got the best of the Rays’ Eric Hinske on a World Series-clinching strikeout. Mere days later, Hinske will get another shot.

The two just happen to face off in Week 9 in CBSSports.com’s MLB Players Fantasy Football League.

Whereas Lidge might have entered the on-field meeting with the upperhand, on the verge of completing a perfect season in save opportunities. On the fantasy gridiron, though, Hinske appears to be in better shape. Lidge is stuck with Kansas City’s Tyler Thigpen as his starting quarterback, with Tony Romo sidelined by a broken right pinkie.

Each player comes in at an uninspiring 3-5, though Lidge is merely two games behind National Division co-leaders Matt Clement and David Wright. Hinske’s team sits sixth out of seven squads on the American side. The full standings can be seen below. (Travis Hafner owners will quickly notice that fantasy football season isn’t going much better for him than real baseball season did.)

The MLB players league has been going since 2005, when Greg Maddux won the inaugural title (as he has everything else).

American Division

  1. B.J. Ryan, RP, Toronto 8-0
  2. Jarrod Washburn, SP, Seattle 6-2
  3. CBSSports.com 5-3
  4. Mark Buehrle, SP, White Sox 4-4
  5. Michael Cuddyer, OF, Minnesota 4-4
  6. Eric Hinske, OF, Tampa Bay 3-5
  7. Travis Hafner, DH, Cleveland 2-6

National Division

  1. Matt Clement, SP, n/a 5-3
  2. David Wright, 3B, Mets 5-3
  3. Greg Maddux, SP, Dodgers 4-4
  4. Brad Lidge, RP, Philadelphia 3-5
  5. Aaron Rowand, OF, San Francisco 3-5
  6. Ben Sheets, SP, Milwaukee 2-6
  7. Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B, Pittsburgh 2-6


FSB Daily 10/30: Senate vs. NFL, NBA, Fantasy Marathon and Politics

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

A roundup of recent posts on the FSB News page.

- A group of U.S. senators (as opposed to the Ottawa Senators) has sent a letter to the NFL to call for NFL Network broadcasts to be opened to a larger audience. The league plans to air a slate of games — beginning Thursday, Nov. 6 — on its own network and broadcast channels in the local markets of the teams involved. The senators want the free offering to be opened up nationally, the way the league did for last season’s Week 17 Patriots-Giants clash.

- The NBA has announced that it will begin selling the online component of its League Pass programming package as a standalone product this year. NBA League Pass offers out-of-market broadcasts to subscribers.

- Toyota and the New York City Marathon have teamed up for a fantasy game to accompany the race. If you’re of the opinion that a sport should not be derived from an activity that coaches in other sports use as punishment, then this is the only way to participate in distance running.

- An Associated Press sports writer gathered with a group of friends/colleagues to conduct a fantasy-style auction draft of the states for Tuesday’s election. To win the electoral votes for a state he or she has drafted, the participant must correctly predict which presidential candidate will carry the state.

- iTeam Sports says it is in negotiations with teams in various professional sports about offering fans the chance to buy shares in team ownership.


Move Over China — Koreans Dig Fantasy, Too

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

The rapid growth of fantasy sports in North America have pushed the industry’s boundaries increasingly abroad in recent years, particularly toward the Far East, where baseball is popular and the NBA has gained a foothold.

According to a Thursday story in The Korea Times, however, it isn’t just China and Japan that fantasy providers should pursue. Apparently South Koreans are increasingly taking part in fantasy endeavors as well.

“Whenever I am free, I spend time with my face glued to my computer, checking the updated numbers of players on my squad,” Lee Seung-hyup, who has played fantasy baseball for two years, told the reporter. That quote could just as easily have come from any of the millions of Americans (or Canadians, Brits, etc.) who play fantasy in the various seasons.

Although the report mentions Korean fantasy “geeks” playing American football and baseball through sites such as Yahoo, Korean internet leader NHN reportedly launched its own salary-cap fantasy baseball game in April — called My Baseball League - using the 487 players from the eight teams in the Korean Baseball Organization.

(Somewhat off-topic: Wow, 61 players per team? I thought only the Yankees did that.)

The game drew a reported 80,000 users, a response which has spurred the company to add a draft-style format for next season.

Obviously, this increasing global reach of fantasy sports not only helps providers of the games, but also creates new entry points for potential advertisers looking to market their products and/or services internationally.

Particularly in these rocky times for many Americans, it’s encouraging to see this industry thriving.