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Monday, August 11, 2021

A marriage of fantasy sports and social networks seems like a pretty solid bet: If you’re going to spend all that time online anyway, you might as well be tweaking your roster and trash-talking while you’re at it. I guess that’s the plan behind Citizen Sports‘ foray into a Facebook-based fantasy football league co-branded by Sports Illustrated.

Despite the obvious synergy, it is an uphill climb, thanks to an entrenched fantasy sports landscape:

“The switching costs for people to leave a league to come over to another site is a significant hurdle,” [Sports Illustrated’s president of digital operations Jeff] Price said. But he believes it will be easier for Citizen Sports because having its program run on Facebook, where millions of people already spend hours every day, “brings fantasy football to the player instead of having the player come to you.”

The field is led by Yahoo Inc., whose fantasy football site drew 6.6 million U.S. visitors in the opening month of the season last year, followed by ESPN.com at 2.6 million visitors, according to comScore Inc.

And Yahoo isn’t taking its advantage for granted. The company has developed even more tools for its fantasy football service, including more graphics and audio alerts, while making it easier to play on mobile phones.

Based on the current balance of power, Citizen Sports’ best strategy would be to court fantasy virgins who aren’t currently hooked into other leagues. Facebook and MySpace would seem to offer that with their 13-to-34 demographics. The negative: Those same youngsters tend not to gravitate toward the traditional team sports that fuel the fantasy leagues.

So if converting Facebookers into fantasy geeks isn’t feasible, then Citizen has to, more or less, convert fantasy geeks into Facebookers. As noted, it’s a tall order to poach Yahoo! users away to a new site, even one that’s a multiple-times-a-day destination. The enticement has to be tangible — not just better/cooler features, but solid incentives that would make it worth the hassle to switch.

It’s noted that Citizen’s track record includes ProTrade, the fantasy jock-stock market that appeals to hard-core sports addicts but doesn’t attract a wider audience. I wonder if integrating ProTrade into the Facebook fantasy widget would serve as a lure, to sort of broaden the depth of fantasy play — manage the players on both a team and individual level in one package.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/11/2021 11:18:27 PM
Category: Internet, Sports
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