July, 2009

FSB Daily 7/23: Bill Cowher, Testosterone, FF Camp

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

A roundup of recent posts on the FSB News page.

- Comcast is using former Steelers coach Bill Cowher to try to appeal to fantasy football fans and sell its cable/phone/internet bundle. Whether you’re interested in Comcast or not, the video spots are worth checking out. Every day I will use my power to turn myself into a better Bill Cowher …

- The Texas Testosterone Festival in Austin on August 15 will feature (probably plenty of jalapenos and) a live expert fantasy football mock draft, including industry folks such as Footballguys.com’s Sigmund Bloom and Marc Faletti, TheHuddle.com’s David Dorey and Darin Tietgen, RotoExperts.com’s Tommy Landry, ecouchcoach.com’s Eric Mattingly, 4for4.com’s Jeff Owens and FantasyInsights.com’s Pete Smits. Ladd Biro, a Dallas Morning News columnist and Sporting News fantasy contributor will host.

- KFAN and the Treasure Island Resort & Casino of Red Wing, Minn., are hosting a “Fantasy Football Camp” on August 15 with radio host and FSTA president Paul Charchian doing the station’s fantasy show live and the resort hosting league drafts.

Send all of your news, job postings, stories and profile ideas to [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter (FSBcom).


FSB Daily 7/21: RapidDraft, Fanhouse, FanHuddle

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

A roundup of recent posts on the FSB News page.

- NTN Buzztime has announced partnerships with four companies on its upcoming “25 Years of Sports Trivia” competition. Among the strategic partners is World Fantasy Games — which owns this site and RapidDraft.com, among others.

- AOL is reportedly working on a deal to acquire MMAFighting.com, which will then serve as the hub of mixed martial arts coverage for Fanhouse.com.

- Front Office Sports Enterprise will launch FanHuddle — a sports blog network, with forums and a fantasy sports presence as well — in September.

Send all of your news, job postings, stories and profile ideas to [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter (FSBcom).


Fantasy Fanatics Changes Course on Relaunch

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Sometimes you hit the Web with a new site and just keep plugging along. Other times, heading in a different direction makes more sense for any number of reasons.

In its first incarnation, FantasyFanatics.com went the route of the comprehensive fantasy site with articles, forums, rankings, etc.  Now, the site wants to see just how much of an expert you (or I or the dude who writes for that magazine) are.

“The new Fanatics is focused on a narrow but important and fairly unexplored slice of the industry — creating a rankings system that will uncover the best minds in the fantasy sports community,” founder Cal Spears told FSB.com. “The purpose of our games is twofold: one is to track who is the best fantasy prognosticator, … and the other is to create consensus, ‘crowd-sourced’ fantasy rankings.”

The site invites registered (for free) members to input their player rankings, which can be altered up until the start of the season and will then be tracked. The purpose, over time, will be to determine who is most successful in projecting fantasy performance.

FantasyFanatics.com plans to use the rankings-based competitions to compile a “Fantasy Skill Quotient” for each user, which will then be publicly viewable in user profiles and forum posts. The idea is that fantasy players searching for advice will be able to determine who among respondents actually seems to know what they’re talking about.

Another primary goal, Spears said, is to tap into the “wisdom of the crowd” by creating crowdsourced rankings for things like waiver-wire pickups. That way, a fantasy player trying to figure out which receiver to pick up as a bye-week filler can see who others are most commonly adding — or leaving alone.

“I’m a strong believer in harnessing the wisdom of the crowd,” Spears said. “I’m especially a strong believer in that wisdom when you can filter the crowd’s picks by those who are the best performers historically. Once we get some data rolling members will be able to filter crowd-sourced rankings lists by the top 10%, top 1%, or even bottom 10% of performers.

“If you’re struggling with a bye week waiver wire fill in decision in a deep league, just hop on Fanatics and check out who the crowd is picking up that week.”

Of course, building such historical data takes time. Particularly in football, where a season only comprises 16 games, it takes a few years to actually collect trustworthy information. The crowdsource concept — although it would still work with just a few good contributors — really relies on a plentiful base of users.

Helping FantasyFanatics.com at the outset is a deal with the World Championship of Fantasy Football, in which the top finisher in the rankings game wins an entry into next year’s main event. The WCOFF name helps add credibility to a basically new venture, while the prize itself provides obvious incentive for entrants.

Given that prize and the stated goal of the rankings game, our one critique is that FantasyFanatics.com includes only quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. Although those are clearly the three most important positions in fantasy football, it seems that tight ends should be included — and maybe team defenses, too. The argument against defenses could be in nailing down a single scoring system among the countless variations out there, but scoring differs throughout fantasy on all fronts. Finding some common ground for defenses should be doable.

That aside, FantasyFanatics.com is also looking to get fantasy sites to jump into the mix by compiling media rankings for those who enter the site with which they’re affiliated. The FSTA-sponsored Accuracy Challenge began last year to track the results of preseason rankings among fantasy sites who chose to enter, but it never hurts to have another outlet serving that purpose.

Spears said the site will have all five rankings-based games ready for the coming season. As for how the site will make money, he said that’s not a primary worry at this stage.

“Monetization is not our focus at the moment,” he said. “We want to follow the same model we did with [poker-related site] PocketFives.com: build a cool site with great free products and get traffic. If we get the traffic the advertising deals and sponsorships will come along with it.”


Fox and Fanhouse Take Hits in June comScore Report

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

TheBigLead.com has the comScore traffic numbers for sports sites in June and reports that Fox Sports and Fanhouse experienced bigger drops than others among the top 10.

Per TBL, Fox — which did still rank third in June behind Yahoo! and ESPN — dropped to 12.57 million unique visitors from 15.1 million in June 2008 and 13.67 million in May 2009.

Fanhouse dipped from fifth in May to sixth in June, going from 9.7 million uniques down to 8.44 million. TBL points out that the site drew 11.01 million unique visitors last December before announcing the additions of prominent sportswriters including Jay Mariotti and Kevin Blackistone to the blogger staff.

Fanhouse also shed the “AOL Sports” flag back in January and relaunched as the company’s primary sports entity. Judging by 2008 numbers, the recent acquisition of MMAFighting.com and the run-up to football season on AOL’s fantasy games site, FleaFlicker.com, could add a couple hundred thousand uniques a month through late summer and fall.

Fox Sports, as well, is likely looking for its recent deal with OPENSports.com to enhance its fantasy products and boost site traffic.

Here’s the June comScore Top 10 in full (numbers include subsidiary sites):

1. Yahoo! Sports — 24.77 million unique visitors (27.14 million in May)

2. ESPN — 20.98 million (20.51 million)

3. Fox Sports — 12.57 million (14.62 million)

4. MLB.com — 11.54 million (12.42 million)

5. Fantasy Sports Ventures — 8.51 million (8.74 million)

6. Fanhouse — 8.44 million (9.7 million)

7. CBS Sports — 6.64 million (7.17 million)

8. NBA.com — 6.24 million (8.25 million)

9. NFL.com — 6.03 million (6.33 million)

10. Sports Illustrated sites — 4.44 million (4.5 million)