January 14th, 2010

FSB Daily 1/14: ESPN, FF Trader, Minor Leagues, African Soccer

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

A roundup of items recently posted on the FSB News page.

- ESPN Digital Media reportedly enjoyed a big year in 2009, including increased numbers in fantasy traffic. The fantasy football user base reportedly grew by 36 percent and brought a 38-percent rise in time spent there. Those numbers were dwarfed, however, by growth from the partnership with NBA.com that generated 63 percent more fantasy basketball users and a 162-percent increase in time spent on those pages over the same period the year before.

- Fantasy Football Trader is looking for a couple of football writers to contribute through the off-season.

- Some fantasy baseball diehards track the progress of minor-league prospects to get a jump on the expected value once those guys hit the majors. Those who are really committed, though, can put their minor-league knowledge to the test in Box Baseball’s new fantasy game.

- All set for the Orange Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament but wondering where you can get your fantasy hookup? Wonder no more.

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


Style Similarities Made RotoWire, MDC Good Fit

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

It seemed fairly obvious from the sale process that Mock Draft Central generated serious interest on the open market.

When founder and president Jason Pliml first told FSB.com of the intention to sell, the plan was to put MDC up for auction back in November, with a starting bid of $195,000. Before things got to that point, though, Pliml’s company fielded enough direct offers that the direction quickly changed.

“We had at least eight seriously interested parties and probably another six that expressed initial interest,” Pliml told FSB.com this week. “The number of serious suitors was cut in half when we required an all-cash offer as opposed to a combination of cash and private equity.”

Pliml said that although every potential suitor was looking to acquire the whole company, the interest tended to lie in one of three areas:

  • Those who were looking to add MDC’s sizable user base
  • Those most interested in the inherent live-draft technology
  • Those who wanted to grow the company while basically following the existing path

“RotoWire falls into the last category of running it and growing it using a similar business model, particularly since the business model MDC operates under so closely parallels the RotoWire business model,” Pliml said. “Because of the similarities, the transition has been very smooth thus far.

“RotoWire has the same philosophy of good customer service and innovating with technology, so I anticipate they’ll be able to grow things and roll out new features as they get comfortable running what is already in place.”

RotoWire president Peter Schoenke echoed those ideas of similarity and growth potential lying in the parallel philosophies, adding that an existing relationship between the companies helped bring a deal to fruition.

“It just was a really good fit for both parties,” Schoenke told FSB.com in the wake of the announcement. “I’ve known Jason since he started the company and we were one of his first business-to-business partners, so there was a lot familiarity.”

Both sides said that the agreement came about pretty easily, with any delay in finalizing the sale generated only by the sometimes slow steps of the legal-paperwork process.

Now that the acquisition is done, though, Schoenke said RotoWire plans to use its content to bolster MDC’s offerings and vice versa. He sees plenty of value in areas such as the broad and deep average-draft-position statistics of MDC that can help bolster RotoWire’s content offerings in a number of sports. In turn, Schoenke said that RotoWire content will be “integrated” into Mock Draft Central offerings, and that his companies technical knowhow will be put to use in growing the MDC software and applications.

“We plan to invest a lot into the continued development of the draft application … [and] improving the consumer side of the web site,” Schoenke said, adding that they’d like to retain as many “as possible” of MDC’s business-to-business relationships. “MDC really is a unique site in the fantasy sports business in many ways, so we’ll leverage that content and the business opportunities from the software.”

Pliml says he anticipates sticking around for about a year to help get through the transition process, and Schoenke said that Geoff Stein is playing a similar role and will also not remain with the company long term.

Mock Draft Central, meanwhile, joins RotoWire under the umbrella of Roto Sports Inc., which also owns DatabaseSports.com and FantasySportsAdNetwork.com.