January 26th, 2010

ESPN, CBS Split Final Two First-Day Awards

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Oops. Guess I should have checked the schedule rather than trying to jump on posting.

Make that five awards for ESPN on the first day, with the company taking the Fantasy Sports Trade Association plaque for Best Ad (print or online).

Additionally, after a one-year hiatus, CBSSports.com once again took the award for best commissioner product. MyFantasyLeague.com grabbed the honor in 2009, but CBS owned the category every year prior to that.

Thus ended the first day of FSTA industry awards — for real.


ESPN Claims Four FSTA Awards on First Day

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

ESPN started the Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference by winning nearly half of the nine awards handed out.

The “Worldwide Leader” won Industry Recognition awards for Best Online Draft-Style Contest, Best Video Podcast, Best Fantasy Sports Broadcast and Unique Contest for its Streak for the Cash game. That marks a solid jump from the one award that ESPN garnered a year ago.

The other five plaques handed out on Tuesday went to …

- CBS Sports, Best Online Draft Room

- Head2Head Sports, Best Online Salary-Cap Contest

- Fantasy Sports Channel/BlogTalkRadio, Best Audio Podcast

- WCOFF (Gridiron Sports), Best High-Stakes Event

- Baseball HQ’s First Pitch Arizona, Best Live Event


Build, Leverage User Engagement — but Be Careful

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The best panel of the first half of Day 1 here at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference was the group that discussed user-generated content.

Led by Fantasy Sports Writers Association president Mike Beacom, the group comprised representatives from some pretty credible companies: RotoWire president Peter Schoenke, Footballguys.com co-owner David Dodds and Fantasy Sports Ventures executive vice president Andy Regal.

The key message: You can mine a lot of value from your users, but there are reasons and ways to be cautious.

Dodds shared probably the strongest words on the value of user-generated content, pointing to the Footballguys message boards as a key source of writing talent for the site.

“We hire almost exclusively from our message board,” he told the crowd Tuesday, citing the boards as a way to tease out the folks who know what their talking about and have some writing ability.

At the same time that companies can benefit from plucking writers from among their followers, writers can also benefit by leveraging the medium to chase such a relationship. The fact that more sites are chasing user interaction — expanding comment sections, hosting community blogs — provide a platform for aspiring writers to show what they can do.

Matthew Berry’s former site TalentedMrRoto.com was cited as another site that drew writers from its readership. Among others, this helped Yahoo!’s Brad Evans jump from a fantasy consumer to a nominee for both college sports and football writer of the year in this year’s FSWA awards. (He won for college, not for football.)

From the business side, user-generated content can obviously provide low-cost material for an outlet, but Regal cautioned that too much freedom on that front can scare marketers. Potential advertisers might be apprehensive, for instance, about attaching their brand to a site on which they can’t fully trust the content.

That’s part of the rub in targeting user-generated content. If you’re hosting the material, you need to be vigilant in assuring it’s appropriate for your audience — either that or work with a model that doesn’t require ad dollars.

The other part is the reliability of writers who are either uncompensated or paid a small amount. Regal presented an example of a college student who had agreed to provide basketball content at NCAA tournament time — only to trot off on a spring break vacation that he had never mentioned.

“Sometimes you get what you pay for,” Regal cautioned.

We’ve seen the explosion of user-generated content and other attempts at building communities, making consumers feel included. The obvious benefit is user loyalty and retention, but for fantasy sites and aspiring writers, it’s intriguing to look at the additional potential.


Yahoo! Writers Win Twice, ESPN’s Allen Repeats

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Aside from the usual RotoWire haul, Yahoo! was a fairly big winner at Tuesday’s Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards ceremony.

The Web’s most-trafficked fantasy games site saw multi-sport writer Scott Pianowski take the trophy for best golf writer, with Brad Evans claiming the prize for best college sports writer.

Pianowski has previously been nominated as the top writer in baseball and hockey as well, and Evans ranked among this year’s final three in the football writer category.

KFFL’s Ryan Bonini triumphed in that category, with Scott White of CBS Sports claiming the top baseball writer prize.

Meanwhile, Sean Allen of ESPN.com won the top hockey writer award for the second straight year, making him the second two-time winner in the trophy’s four-year existence. Janet Eagleson of RotoWire won the first two times it was given out.

Here’s the full list of nominees (winners in bold) for the remaining categories …

Best Fantasy Football Publication
Fantasy Football Index
Pro Football Weekly/Yahoo!

Best Football Print Article
Michael Blunda, Pro Football Weekly
Ted Carlson, Fanball
Ben Ice, Fantasy Football Pro Forecast

Best Football Series
Tristan Cockcroft, ESPN
Adam Levitan, RotoWorld
Jeff Stotts, RotoWire

Football Writer of the Year
Ryan Bonini, KFFL
Brad Evans, Yahoo!
Derek VanRiper, RotoWire

Baseball Writer of the Year
David Regan, RotoWire
Derek VanRiper, RotoWire
Scott White, CBS Sports

College Sports Writer of the Year
John Baker, RapidDraft
Brad Evans, Yahoo!
Michael Hurcomb, CBS Sports

Golf Writer of the Year
Rob Bolton, RotoWorld
John McNamara, RotoWire
Scott Pianowski, Yahoo!

Hockey Writer of the Year
Sean Allen, ESPN
Rocky Bonanno, NHL.com
Scott Pianowski, Yahoo!

Best Humor Article
Ladd Biro, Sporting News
Paul Bourdett, RotoExperts
Mike Gilbert, RotoExperts