PlayerSearch Blog

by Ted Kasten, Founder of PlayerSearch

Yahoo Fantasy Sports to Open Up

This move by Yahoo has the potential to change the fantasy sports world. At least it would if Yahoo allows people to develop applications outside of http://www.yahoo.com. I have heard Yahoo state that they are opening up their sites and services, but I have never heard them mention opening up Fantasy Sports. There are dozens if not hundreds of small companies/developers that would immediately begin developing advanced fantasy tools for Yahoo to have access to the 5 million+ fantasy sports players on Yahoo.

As industries mature, companies evolve from (i) competing on features to (ii) competing on complete offerings to (iii) competing on ecosystems. If Yahoo opens up its commissioner services, it would be the first company to begin creating an ecosystem around its fantasy sports offerings. This is simplifying things a little, but looking back on Geocities (purchased by Yahoo) it never became anything more than just a feature (user created profile pages) and was quickly trumped by MySpace which had similar features as Geocities but added social networking to create more of a complete offering. Now Facebook is beating MySpace by creating an ecosystem of 10,000+ developers building applications for Facebook. If this applies to fantasy sports, which I believe it does, then Yahoo is taking a huge step in the right direction.

Yahoo gained its foothold in fantasy sports by being one of the first companies to provide a free and easy to use service (Yahoo is well known for being the site of choice for casual office pool leagues while SportsLine is the site of choice for more engaged players). Yahoo has been losing ground as of late to ESPN which has recently taken up the 100% free model to catch up with Yahoo; All else equal, Yahoo won’t be able to compete with ESPN’s brand and unparalleled presence in the sports world…oh, and ESPN currently has a more complete fantasy offering with several games, good features and unbeatable content (they have hired many of the top writers in the fantasy sports world). Unless something changes, it is only a matter of time before ESPN surpasses Yahoo. Yahoo’s best hope of maintaining its lead (worth millions in advertising revenue) is to trump ESPN’s more complete offering with its own ecosystem. This would empower hundreds of small companies/developers that are passionate about fantasy sports to create the robust features that are lacking with Yahoo’s fantasy games while still keeping the core features simple and easy.

This is an exciting concept…could bring down the walled in garden mentality of the industry.  I hope it is more than just an announcement to fend off Microsoft.

Update:

As the commissioner of the Wisconsin Fantasy Football League for 8 years, I would move my league to Yahoo in a split second if they had a handful of really useful tools that were portable and improved the fantasy sports experience for me and my league members.

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April 25, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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