August 10th, 2009

Business Profile: The Fantasy Sports Channel

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Company: BlogTalkRadio
Launch date: August 2006
Became full-time operation: January 2007
No. of employees: 30

In not yet a year of existence, The Fantasy Sports Channel on BlogTalkRadio has built an impressive roster of shows featuring personalities in various sports from outfits around the industry. Marc Ronick, managing editor and creator of the FSC, took some time out last week to tell about the launch, the first year of operation and what lies ahead.

1. First of all, can you explain the BlogTalkRadio business model to anyone who might be unfamiliar?

The network generates revenue via (1) corporate partners like Wal-Mart, Pepsico and Century 21, who lease entire radio stations and sponsor industry events, (2) traditional banner and on-air ads throughout our site and programming, and (3) two tiers of premium services, for individual hosts who want such features as expanded show lengths, call-screening and the ability to edit their shows.

2. In terms that any bum with a phone and a computer can understand, how does one get and operate a show?

For individual hosts, a basic weekly show is free. After signing up and creating their show - at which time they will see a dashboard that includes all the controls for cueing a recorded intro, taking live calls and so on - they simply schedule their debut edition. The system will generate one telephone number that the host calls in to launch the show and another that guests and listeners call into.

3. It seems like pretty much anyone who wants to can create a BTR show, right? So, what does it mean for that show to be on The Fantasy Sports Channel? What’s the difference between a “channel” and a “network”?

With thousands of shows on BTR to sift through, The Fantasy Sports Channel is intended to provide fantasy sports enthusiasts with one place to find exactly what they’re looking for. We go through a “recruiting process” with current and potential BTR hosts to determine if their shows are a good fit for the channel, and vice-versa.

4. What went into the creation and launch of The Fantasy Sports Channel, in terms of additional capital, marketing, partnerships, sales, roster building, etc.?

The costs involved in the creation of the FSC were nominal. BTR knew there was a market for this sort of programming, so a budget was set for higher-priority items. The real investment we made was one of time. A considerable amount of time was spent on recruiting hosts and then working with them (we started with 30 different shows) to put a program schedule together that worked for everyone. Marketing has been handled mainly through test campaigns, heavily focused on social networking. This included utilizing sites like Facebook and Twitter but also working with our hosts to network with their own listener and subscriber bases. With websites like,,,,, etc., we had a tremendous opportunity to cross-promote our shows and channel.

5. The FSC launched about a year ago (unofficially in July 2008, officially in September). Can you describe the climb from there? How hard was it to convince your BTR cohorts early on that the FSC could work?

I was pleasantly surprised (almost shocked) how excited and cooperative hosts were about the concept. There were very few skeptics. Once they understood the potential and passion we had for the channel, they were on board. Most of our hosts look at the FSC and their shows as an add-on to the different products and services they offer. The channel follows that true spirit of social networking for both our hosts and our listeners. The amazing support and dedication the hosts and listeners have demonstrated has been more than we dreamed it would be. We couldn’t have any of this success without any of them.

6. Was there a specific turning point — an event or series of events that led you to believe (either at the time or looking back) that the FSC had “arrived”? (Whatever that means in the still rather nascent industry of Internet radio.)

That “ah ha” moment was after the first host agreed to join the channel. Craig Davis of spent a lot of late nights on the phone with me learning the ins and outs of how to use BTR and how the FSC was going to work. Once he agreed, we knew that other hosts would see the same potential that Craig did. The other defining moment early on was to see the strong growth - 30 percent - in listenership from July 2008 to September 2008.

7. What do you think the channel does particularly well at this point, and where would you like to see it do better?

We have been able to provide a wide variety of content that keeps our channel interesting and informative. It has naturally evolved into a large niche community of “experts” and “players” all working together for the love of fantasy sports. As for areas of improvement, that’s probably more in the technical realm. I’d love to see a complete revamp of the channel’s homepage as opposed to the generic BTR channel page. We are working on a revamp that will hopefully launch just in time for kickoff in September.

8. There’s a growing view that college football is the next big growth area in fantasy sports. Have you been pursuing more programming in this area? Where else do you see growth potential — either in terms of specific sports or business pursuits?

Fantasy college football has been a growing area, and we are streaming that kind of programming. The first CFF show added to the channel launched early this year and now can be heard every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET. As for other growth potential, the sky’s the limit. I’m hoping that we can continue to bring in big-name guests AND hosts that will draw in even bigger audiences. Streaming from big-time events like professional championship games, all-star games, rookie drafts, etc., will also give us a unique edge. We’re also working on several reality-style show concepts that get our listeners more involved with the channel.

9. How do you folks make money?

We have a number of partnership opportunities as we move toward our first anniversary of the channel — and the kickoff to the NFL season. We used this past year to establish the channel and our audience. The next step is to start bringing on sponsors and advertisers to generate revenue. The beauty of that is BTR offers a revenue-sharing program so our hosts can also reap the rewards for all of the hard work they’ve put into their shows and the channel.

10. What is the ultimate goal of The Fantasy Sports Channel?

The ultimate goal is to establish the channel as the premiere media source for fantasy sports. The media giants will always be sure to include quality fantasy sports programming here and there, but obviously has a bigger picture to focus on. We want all of the experts and enthusiasts to know there’s one place for everyone to go to give and receive free, quality content that both helps to generate new business for our experts and new perspectives to our listeners to consider as they manage their fantasy teams.