Posts Tagged ‘nffc’

NFC Deal Just a Part of STATS’ Fantasy Plan

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

We overlooked in mid-February the announcement of Greg Ambrosius’ deals taking control of the National Fantasy Championships from Liberty and partnering up with STATS. It seemed mostly formality for a deal that Ambrosius had already announced at the end of January.

Thanks to a post by Scott Atkins on the Fantasy Players Association website and a Sports Business Journal story from Feb. 21, though, there are some more interesting tidbits worth passing along. Chief among the info is STATS’ apparent plan to make this a mere first step in getting back to consumer fantasy gaming.

STATS executive vice president Steve Byrd told SBJ: “This is a very fertile market and obviously one where we have history, are comfortable with and know well. We don’t have any intention to get into the free, ad-supported space. That’s obviously very well staked out by ESPN, Yahoo! and others, many of which are our clients. But the pay side continues to show strong growth, and we think there’s a way for us to achieve scale there.”

As the report pointed out, STATS played a significant role in consumer fantasy games in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It also provided the back-end support for the NFFC and NFBC before Fanball acquired the events in 2009.

With its majority stake in the NFC, STATS has added Ambrosius to its staff as general manager of consumer fantasy games. Tom Kessenich also joins the company’s ranks as manager of high-stakes fantasy games. The NFC sites have also been switched over.

No specifics have yet been announced about further fantasy plans, but Byrd did tell SBJ that “there’s potentially interest in other assets” remaining at Liberty from the pending Fanball closure.


NFBC Partners Back up with STATS

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

One of the key questions coming out of last month’s Fanball news was what would happen to the NFBC and NFFC going forward. Founder Greg Ambrosius answered that earlier this week site message boards.

The National Fantasy Baseball Championship — along with its football twin — has buddied back up with STATS, which provided technology services for the events before Fanball acquired the contests for the 2010 seasons.

Here’s what Ambrosius had to say in his Monday evening announcement:

“We’re proud to announce that STATS Inc will return as the back-end provider for this contest in 2011 and beyond. STATS ran the back-end software for the NFBC and NFFC from 2004-2009 and is the perfect partner for this contest going forward. More details will come shortly, but we wanted everyone to know this as soon as possible.

“STATS created many of the features that NFBC owners enjoyed in the past, such as an easy-to-use Conditional Bid setup, Live Standings for your league and overall standings that updated your position in real-time data, and a reliable FAAB process.

“We are VERY excited to be working with STATS Inc again and we have every confidence in the world that 2011 will be a smooth ride for our customers. The back-end software is being dusted off as we speak and it’s been tried and tested before. We believe 2011 will be a great season and we have plans for technological enhancements in the near future as well.”

Further details on the events can be gleaned from the message-board threads. Ambrosius said further announcements will follow but that the new NFBC site will include its own draft-room software that will be provided by STATS.

We’ll share any further details that become available to us.


It’s Official: Fanball to Close

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

This message was posted at the top of the homepage at late Tuesday afternoon:

The management of has determined to cease operations, effective as of June 30, 2011. Commissioner, Draft & Play, and Challenge games already in progress for NBA, NHL and NFL will continue to their conclusion. Prize payouts for the NBA, NHL and NFL games already in progress will be honored according to Fanball game rules. will not initiate new games for the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs or any other sports, and will promptly send a refund to customers of entry fees for 2011 PGA Tour Trade 1 and PGA Tour Trade 2.

Please visit the My Account page on in order to ensure that has your current address for sending any disbursements.

We have to assume that “management of” refers to Liberty Media, based on the way this story has developed. This, of course, is merely confirmation of what we reported late last week and offers no details about specific pieces of the operations beyond what is mentioned in the official note.

The biggest and most interesting question in the wake of this announcement is what becomes of the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, whose site carries no message as of this writing about the changes at Fanball and which has been taking entries up to this point.

The NFBC and it’s football relative remained under the guidance of founder Greg Ambrosius and Tom Kessenich through Fanball’s acquisition of the contests, so we’ll see how the events come through. In a message-board thread in which he shared the official Fanball announcement with the NFBC community, Ambrosius also offered the following:

While there is never good news in a historic company being shut down, please realize that some things are still unannounced and undecided. Hopefully there’s a reason for that. I don’t know what will happen or if anything will happen with these assets, but they’re not mentioned here in this first statement and that isn’t all bad.

Tom, myself and most of the Fanball employees are still employed today by Liberty Media, the message boards are still active, all of our players will be paid in full, employees now at least know the terms of their time at Fanball, and life moves on. It’s tragic to see such an important company leave this space, but it happens and folks move on.

Again, the boards are still alive. Use them for encouragement and positive thoughts, not to bash anyone or any entity. Let’s stay hopeful that all things will work out for this great industry, for these great games, for these great customers and hopefully this great community of like-minded baseball and football fanatics will remain intact. That’s my prayer tonight.

As this situation moves forward, we should begin to get a clearer picture of how this and other lingering questions get answered, and will provide updates as they become available.


Sources: Liberty Set to Close Fanball

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

It appears that Liberty Media has decided to shut down Fanball, according to various sources.

Rumors of such a possibility began to surface early Wednesday morning, and by Thursday morning was able to confirm with Fanball employees that Liberty had informed them Wednesday of the impending action and that they were not to speak publicly about the plans.

Of course, no official announcement has yet come from Fanball or Liberty, which might leave open the possibility of a different resolution here. We have heard from multiple sources that there will be a meeting with Liberty decision makers next week, though no specifics have been shared on the expected topics of that meeting.

If it comes to fruition, the closure will be a surprising development for a company that had made several high-profile acquisitions over the past several years, including the NFFC and NFBC.

It’s also a sad development for the industry in which many of us reside. Fanball has been a key player in the fantasy sports industry since before there was enough out there to call it an “industry.” It began back in 1993 as a magazine called Fantasy Football Weekly, created by Paul Charchian and Rob Phythian and quickly grew into a full-service fantasy company with games, content and — as of this year — a couple of spots in the lineup on Sirius XM’s fantasy sports channel.

FUN Technologies acquired the pieces that now combine to make up Fanball in 2005 and 2006, with Liberty Media acquiring FUN and all of its parts in 2007. One of those pieces, which became part of Fanball in 2006, was fellow fantasy veteran company CDM Sports.

“I’m very sad for all the dedicated employees and for the loyal customers who supported the games and services for almost 20 years,” Charlie Wiegert, co-founder of CDM, told Thursday of the apparent pending closure.

Should the news become official, we’ll look more into what might happen to various pieces, particularly the NFBC (and associated events), which is gearing up for the 2011 baseball season.

Should Liberty go through with the closure of Fanball, let’s just hope it stands as the story of one large corporation deciding that it no longer wanted to operate a specific portion of its business. Otherwise, it might serve as an ominous sign for independent fantasy businesses in a landscape increasingly populated by large companies with interests that don’t lie close enough to our games.