SBJ/20100830/This Week's News

Is football the next Farmville?

CBSSports.com has struck a deal with fantasy games developer Fantasy Moguls to create a Facebook-based fantasy football game called Franchise Football.

The new game aims to merge traditional fantasy football with popular Facebook-based casual and social games, such as Mafia Wars and Farmville. In Franchise Football, users will be able to create and build fantasy rosters but do so outside the typical week-to-week setting of fantasy football. Instead, users will play simulated games with their rosters based on historical statistical data and earn virtual cash and “reputation points,” permitting the acquisition of better players and further elevation within the competition.

The co-branded and co-marketed game will use public-domain NFL player names and statistics but not NFL team names.

The deal expands CBSSports.com’s fantasy profile beyond its existing base of commissioner-style games and a much more limited presence in casual fantasy gaming. Fantasy Moguls, meanwhile, gains a major promotional and distribution partner.

CBSSports.com is creating
Franchise Football with
developer Fantasy Moguls.

CBS plans to promote the game online at CBSSports.com as well as via other CBS Interactive properties and with broadcast mentions during the network’s NFL and college football coverage.

For both parties, the deal creates a 12-month window for fantasy football, given that the game is not tied to real-time NFL game results.

“The fact that this is an evergreen product is one of my favorite things about this,” said Jason Kint, CBSSports.com senior vice president and general manager. “You can jump in and play at any point in the year, and this gives us an opportunity to talk to the fantasy football player year-round.”

Company officials on both sides declined to discuss financial details but did say the two sides will participate in a revenue-sharing agreement based on sales of both corporate sponsorships and virtual goods, a new element for CBSSports.com. Corporate sales will be led by CBSSports.com.

The virtual goods in this game are the players. Users can begin the game for free, but they can purchase better players for their teams along the way, giving the game a certain free agency component.

Seattle-based Fantasy Moguls is a subsidiary of Atomic Moguls, which is led by former NBA Entertainment executive Brenda Spoonemore.

The two companies previously worked on distribution and promotion of a World Cup-themed version of Fantasy Moguls’ Galacticos Football soccer game.

“This allows us to jump-start this football product in a way we wouldn’t be able to do on our own,” Spoonemore said. “Nobody’s really cracked the code yet on a dual-revenue stream game [on Facebook], and I think we have a big opportunity to do that here.”

Both sides said CBSSports.com is nearing the completion of a deal with an undisclosed company to become the presenting sponsor of Franchise Football. That deal may arrive in time for the Sept. 9 start of the NFL season.

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