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Volume 22 No. 23
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SportsHub Technologies buys two companies in fantasy consolidation

SportsHub Technologies, a Minneapolis-based fantasy sports startup, has bought payment service LeagueSafe and high-stakes event operator National Fantasy Championships, signaling a move toward greater consolidation in the industry.

Phythian
Charchian
The 1-year-old SportsHub is run by President and CEO Rob Phythian, whose experience in fantasy sports dates to the early 1990s. The acquisition of LeagueSafe reunites him with founder and President Paul Charchian, who worked with Phythian at trailblazing industry publication Fantasy Football Weekly and now also serves as president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Like Phythian and Charchian, National Fantasy Championships general manager Greg Ambrosius is a multi-decade fantasy sports veteran and a member of the association’s Hall of Fame.

Financial terms for the acquisitions were not disclosed. The deals follow ones that SportsHub made earlier this year for RG Ventures, which includes the CDM Sports suite of fantasy games, and fantasy sports application developer Sports Technologies.

Heightened government scrutiny on daily fantasy operators in the last year has created a new state-by-state taxation and regulatory structure for fantasy operators of all types. “There’s a new normal in the business now, and that creates a lot of real reasons to consolidate and amass a scale to be better equipped to manage some of the issues out there,” Phythian said.

SportsHub acquired both LeagueSafe and National Fantasy Championships.
“Some people are retreating from that new normal, but I made the decision that it’s still very much worth it to lean more into fantasy,” he said.

Phythian cited the record 57.4 million people in the U.S. and Canada playing fantasy sports, according to association data, as reason for his optimism.

“The majority of that number is still in traditional, seasonlong fantasy, and that number is still growing,” he said. “The big opportunity is getting that seasonlong player to play an extra game or two.”

LeagueSafe and the National Fantasy Championships will continue to be run by their leadership teams and under their brand names, but the LeagueSafe services — which include collection, escrowing and payment of fantasy dues — in particular will be promoted across the SportsHub portfolio.

“As with most maturing industries, there are some real advantages to scale, and we will be able to do more things in this new structure,” Charchian said.

The SportsHub acquisition removes the National Fantasy Championships from the Stats LLC portfolio, where it had been since 2011. Ambrosius runs the events as the National Fantasy Football Championship, National Fantasy Baseball Championship and National Fantasy Basketball Championship, which collectively over the past dozen years have distributed more than $37 million in prize money.

This past summer, Ambrosius and Stats CEO Ken Fuchs collectively decided the fantasy operation would be better served under different ownership. Similarly, Rishi Diwan, Stats vice president of product management, said the National Fantasy Championships “weren’t exactly core to where Stats is looking to go and take its product road map.”

“They’re a data company, not a consumer company, and in a very competitive marketplace for data,” Ambrosius said. “We had a great run at Stats, but it was a joint realization that in order to grow, we would need to grow somewhere else.”