Posts Tagged ‘sports business journal’

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.


FSB Daily 2/9: SBJ, UEFA, Social Marketing

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

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

- The Sports Business Journal has planned for a March 1 release an “In Depth” report on fantasy sports. According to its announcement: “We’ll call upon our team of fantasy experts to find out which segments of the business are growing the fastest. We’ll introduce you to the key players in this space and outline some of the products that have gained the most traction with consumers.”

- European fantasy games site has added a salary-cap contest for the second half of the Champions League season. It’s interesting to note that Champions Fantasy Knock-Out is a pay-to-play game.

- We all know how important it is these days to get our marketing messages out there via social media. This week, eMarketer is running a series on how to do so properly.

- Many football fans may have forgotten about Anthony Gonzalez soon after he went down with a knee injury in Week 1, but fantasy owners who drafted the Colts wideout as a No. 2 receiver sure didn’t. senior fantasy writer Jamey Eisenberg wrote a feature over the weekend on Gonzalez, who will be an interesting fantasy case heading into 2010.

- It’s just one guy’s opinion but still interesting to note that this staff writer for Connecticut’s New Britain Herald dubs the best site on the Web. Let fantasy baseball season officially begin.

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


Business Profile: Fantasy Sports Ventures

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Company: Fantasy Sports Ventures Inc.
Launch date: 2006

Since debuting less than three years ago, Fantasy Sports Ventures and its Fantasy Players Network have experienced tremendous growth, now ranking near the likes of and Yahoo! in terms of monthly unique Web visitors. FSV executive vice president and general manager Clay Walker took some time to tell about how the company has gotten off to such a quick start.

1. With many companies in the fantasy industry, it’s obvious what they offer, be it content, league management services, a specific product, etc. Can you please describe just what services Fantasy Sports Ventures provides?
FSV provides marketing and promotional resources to its partners in exchange for a revenue share on the ad dollars we generate for them. Essentially, the sites are getting a dedicated and experienced online sales staff to represent them for free. We also promote our sites through the Fantasy Players Network at and we frequently provide partner content to USA Today through the strategic relationship we have with Gannett. Finally, we provide our partners with a free photo license from ICON Sports Media.

2. What was the impetus for the company’s creation and what went into the launch (i.e. capital, tech development, self-promotion, etc.)?
Chris Russo spent 6 years at the NFL and he quickly observed that, while there were half a dozen big media companies involved in fantasy, there were also hundreds of smaller sites involved in fantasy. Collectively, he believed that the audience of these smaller sites could equal or surpass the audiences of major media companies if we all worked together. Having been involved with fantasy football since I started at the NFL Players Association in 1993, it was easy for me to grasp and endorse the concept. In terms of capital, we are privately funded by friends and family and USA Today/Gannett.

3. Four members of the executive board have prior experience working for or with the NFL. What part has that experience played in building a company in an industry led by football?
We have great executive experience across the board, led by Chris Russo — who ran the NFL New Media business for more than six years. Evan Kramer was also at the NFL for a long time, and I spent 13 years at the NFL Players Association, so it’s hard to run away from our football backgrounds. However, we also have executive staffers from Yahoo! Sports, ABC and CBS Sports — so we have a well-rounded group leading the company. I believe that type of management experience is unique in this industry.

4. You helped found the Fantasy Sports Association in the same year in which FSV launched. What role has that tie played in your company’s development and integration into the industry?
I founded the Fantasy Sports Association as a way to provide the larger media companies with a platform to promote fantasy sports to brand marketers. It’s a nice complement to the FSTA, which does a great job of representing the independent fantasy sports voices in the industry. FSV obviously works with both associations and many of our partners are members of the FSTA.

5. What kind of connections within the fantasy industry did FSV carry into its launch? How has the company gone about building further relationships?
Collectively, our management staff was fortunate enough to be able to develop a number of great business partnerships while we worked for the NFL, NFLPA, Yahoo!, CBS, ABC, etc., that gave us a head start when we first launched FSV. It’s an extremely competitive marketplace and advertising dollars have become more scarce in the current economy, so every edge we have is a plus for us.

6. What is the Fantasy Players Network? What does it mean for a site to be a part of it, and how have you gone about building it?
The Fantasy Players Network is a collection of the best independent fantasy sports games, tools, content and community around the web. We are working on delivering the best and most comprehensive fantasy experience for fans. At the same time, we’re packaging that very attractive audience for brand marketers and building custom marketing opportunities that few, if any, can match.

7. What were some of the first sites you targeted as potential business partners, and were there any particular deals that served as benchmarks for FSV’s early progress?
There are so many great sites in the network that it’s difficult to call out one particular content site, game site, etc. To us, they are all valuable because each site provides something unique and different and that’s what makes the network so special — that you can’t find all of the things we have in the network anywhere else.

The two easiest benchmarks are scale and revenue. When we started at the end of 2006, we didn’t have an audience. By the end of 2007, our audience was approximately 5 million unique visitors per month (according to Nielsen and comScore). By the end of 2008, our audience had grown to 11.5 million unique visitors per month. It’s possible that our audience may reach 15 million unique visitors per month by the end of 2009. Currently, the Network is the fifth-largest online sports property in the U.S., exceeding the size of,, NASCAR, AOL and many others with larger brand name recognition. The second measure is revenue. We doubled our revenue from 2007 to 2008 and we may have a similar gain in 2009.

Last, FSV was named one of the five best Digital Sports Media companies in 2009 by the Sports Business Journal. Though ESPN ultimately won the award in NYC last week, it was an honor to be considered in the same company as ESPN and Yahoo! Sports.

8. You have experienced tremendous growth in online traffic over the past year. How has FSV gone about making that happen, and how important is that to the company’s success?
Like many other sites in the industry, we’ve focused on SEO (search engine optimization). We’ve also worked with USA Today to increase our distribution and the distribution of the content around the network. Moving forward, we will focus more on linking and integrating the sites in the network so the traffic travels back and forth between the partners more easily. Additionally, we continue to add new sites to the network, and that also increases network traffic.

9. What kind of backgrounds and involvement do you guys have as fantasy players?
A number of our staff members have been longtime fantasy players, myself included. My claim to fame is that I was one of the founding members of the TFL (Tidewater Football League) in 1988. I played in that league for seven seasons, until I was asked to leave by the other owners in the league because I won the league three years in a row. There was a belief that my job at the NFLPA provided me with an unfair advantage!

10. What should we expect to see from Fantasy Sports Ventures going forward?
More growth in the size of our audience and in revenue in 2009 and 2010. You may also see a redesign of in 2010.


FSV Builds College Presence

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Fantasy Sports Ventures has worked quickly in its roughly three years of existence to build a strong online presence centered in the fantasy sports market. Now the company is raising its stature in the college space, in which football is the clear leader.

Earlier this year, FSV made deals with a bevy of college sports sites that had previously been affiliated with SportsWar, which decided to shift gears and end those relationships, according to Sports Business Journal.

“We see a really big upside in the college space, particularly as it relates to sponsor activity,” FSV founder and CEO Chris Russo told SBJ. “There were more than 50 companies this spring that activated around the NCAA basketball tournament, and there are similar amounts of sponsor interest among other facets of college sports, particularly football.”

Many of the sites — including,, and — appear to be geared more toward general sports coverage and/or talk for specific programs or conferences, rather than fantasy-centric.

However, those sites join a Fantasy Players Network with sites such as College Fantasy Football Insider and The CFFB, which are specifically aimed at the fantasy college game. Besides that, it’ll be a short trip for the kind of avid follower that populates a Georgia Bulldogs fan site to fantasy college football — which sure looks like the next big growth area for fantasy.

“By adding 400 sites together, you have enough scale. You really become relevant to advertisers,” Russo told’s Sarah Talalay for her The Business of Sports blog. “Marketers want to be around passion points. People care about fantasy sports. That’s a hobby and an avidity. More and more money is going to continue to move from traditional media to new media.”

And more people appear to be on their way to fantasy college football, making it a good place to buy virtual real estate.