Fantasy sports leagues, with 32 million players and a $3-4 billion economic impact, is nearly the national pastime. It’s no surprise that the hobby is fodder for two of the most popular Web series.
Yahoo’s Fantasy Football Live, now in its sixth season, has pretty straightforward premise: provide fans with last-minute breaking news and insider information that they can use to make last minute adjustments to their fantasy teams. Yahoo’s panel of experts includes the Yahoo Sports editorial team of Brandon Funston, Brad “The Big Noise” Evans, and this year’s host, John Weisbarth. The show is interactive, allowing users to call in with specific questions about how to manage their rosters, or ask questions via email. It airs on gameday, one hour prior to kickoff.
Considering the ADD nature of fantasy football junkies, the show is fast paced and manages to cover every matchup that could frustrate a fantasy football player. Unfortunately, it’s easy to miss key matchups and there’s no way to pause or rewind or start from the beginning if you were still making coffee when the show starts. While a Web series, it’s pretty much like a TV show. Still, this kind of program makes complete sense for Yahoo, which despite its problems elsewhere remains a dominant force in fantasy sports. Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football is the most popular service online, boasting 45 percent of all visits to fantasy football sites last year, according to Experian Hitwise.
Toyota is the lead sponsor, along with pre-and mid-roll advertising from national brand advertisers. Like nearly all of Yahoo’s video content, the video quality is high and the production values are excellent. It would be at home on ESPN as easily as it is online. But I’d love for them to add the ability to embed the video player into other Yahoo Sports pages, rather than having to open additional tabs to make the actual adjustments to lineups.
From traditional sports broadcasters comes CBSSports.com’s fantasy football show, Fantasy Football Today. And the key word in that title is “Today.” Fantasy Football today is streamed five days a week, taking Saturday and Monday off. That might seem excessive, but not to white-knuckled fantasy fans who need to know whether Arian Foster’s hamstring has healed. The show is hosted by Jason Horowitz and Lauren Shehadi. It features former San Francisco 49er Randy Cross and CBSSports.com’s sports editors Jamey Eisenberg, Nate Zegura and Dave Richard. It takes a much more in-depth approach than Yahoo, which is a huge boon for stat wonks and rabid fans. Four days a week, coverage focuses on injury updates and mixes in other useful insight like waiver wire options, weekly rankings by position and game-by-game breakdowns. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday’s streams are half-hour segments. Friday’s program is an hour long. Sunday gets a double dose of Fantasy Football Today with a two-hour show before the games and a 45-minute post-game break down at 8pm.
Like Yahoo, CBSSports.com’s video quality and production values are impeccable. But they’ve got a bit of a leg up on talent, with the ability to tap their broadcast partner, CBS’s NFL Today, for some more recognizable names and check-ins direct from the stadiums. CBSSports.com goes a little farther with their content, too. In addition to the daily programs, they chop up their shows into five minute segments, so it’s easy for users to get the information they need on-demand in addition to the programming schedule. Additionally, CBS provides video channels that are sortable by position, so if you’re in a bind with your running backs, you can find clips from the show only about running backs. Very handy. Subway and Volkswagen are sponsors with pre-roll spots that aren’t too frequent or intrusive.
Overall, both fantasy football shows provide the information that voracious fantasy sports fans need in a very Web-friendly manner. Ultimately users will probably tune in to a show based on where their fantasy league is being run, but Yahoo users probably cross over to CBS’s content more than the other direction.
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