SBD/Issue 126/Sports Media

Sporting News Ending Fantasy Games, Will Still Provide Content

Sporting News Still Offering Fantasy Content,
Advice, But Discontinuing Games Operation

Sporting News is discontinuing its fantasy games operation and will offer no new games, the latest significant move to occur with the brand under new President and Publisher Jeff Price. In a letter sent to Sporting News fantasy customers late Friday, Price said, "The fantasy industry is changing, and we feel it's best to devote our resources to providing the best fantasy content and advice on the Internet, and beyond." Questioned further about the decision, Price said Sporting News will relaunch Fantasy Source, its premium fantasy content service on sportingnews.com, this summer in time for fantasy football. Traditional, commissioner-style fantasy gaming remains dominated by Yahoo, CBS Sports and ESPN, making it more difficult for other outfits to achieve significant market share. The marketplace for fantasy games content, however, involves many more players with a wide range of information available. "Funny enough, this is the same decision I made at Sports Illustrated five years ago," Price said. "But by creating a brand new and much better experience with Fantasy Source, something we believe will be really special and unique, we have a great opportunity to best serve our avid fans." Strat-O-Matic games offered through Sporting News have been excluded from this decision.

DEAL REACHED WITH CBSSPORTS.COM: Sporting News last June, prior to Price's arrival a month ago, had struck a multi-year deal with L.A.-based RotoHog to develop a series of free and fee-based fantasy games across numerous sports that will now be discontinued. As part of the fantasy gaming shutdown, Sporting News has also struck a short-term partnership with CBSSports.com to allow fantasy baseball players to shift their leagues over there at a 50% price discount. But no decisions have been made as to any such long-term partnerships. "With baseball season about to start, we felt it was important to make sure our players were still taken care of," Price said. "As for anything else in this area, we'll take an open look." RotoHog will continue to offer a variety of fantasy games through its Web site and other media and distribution partners. "Jeff's got a laser focus on what he wants to do, and I understand," said RotoHog CEO Kelly Perdew. "We know our games work and generate revenue, and we'd love to work with them again." Sporting News is owned by American City Business Journals, parent company of THE DAILY and SportsBusiness Journal.

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