SMT Conference Sessions Address Fantasy Sports, Millenial Generation
The 2011 Sports Media & Technology conference yesterday featured the panel, “Fantasy Sports: Growth Opportunities.” The participants were Stats LLC GM/Consumer Fantasy Games Greg Ambrosius, NBC Sports Digital VP & GM Rick Cordella, RotoWire co-Founder & President Peter Schoenke and NFL Senior VP/Media Strategy & Development Hans Schroeder.
The afternoon breakout session focused on the state of fantasy sports and where the industry can grow from here. Schoenke: “The NFL lockout over the last two years really loomed large over our industry in terms of stopping potential growth, both from getting venture funding for startups and expansion from the major media companies with new product lines. NFL makes up somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of the business for fantasy.” Schroeder, on NFL.com becoming the fourth player in the commissioner league space: “Going back 10 years, we had a great partner in CBS Sportsline. But as they took NFL.com in-house and then took the club site business in-house, fantasy became such a key pillar. Forty-plus percent of our traffic and usage on a monthly basis. To own that relationship directly with the customer was really key to us.” Ambrosius: “I’ve been in this industry 22 years and I’ve never seen it change as much as it has over the last 22 months. The fantasy industry is as strong as it’s ever been and it continues to grow every year. We have more people playing and they’re playing more games. But the fantasy business space is shrinking. The big companies are taking over what the mom-and-pops created. The pay-to-play model is probably one of the black eyes of this space.” Cordella: “From a sports business standpoint, your best customers are the most engaged customers and those are fantasy players. If you can’t cater to them and have them as an anchor on your site or digital platform, you’re not winning the digital game.”
On fantasy sports magazines, Ambrosius: “The lockout killed the magazines. That entire magazine industry, which we had around 30 different titles at one time, was wiped out. We just don’t have companies advertising within the space.”
On the effect of the NBA lockout on the fantasy industry, Schoenke: “I think it’s actually going to turn out to be okay. If they start in January/February, people will be done with fantasy football, which really just takes over everyone’s attention. Between that and the start of baseball, they might give basketball a try.”
on the millenial generation