PlayerSearch Blog

by Ted Kasten, Founder of PlayerSearch

Fantasy Sports Ventures buys BaseballHQ

According to the Wall Street Journal, FSV has acquired BaseballHQ, one of the most well respected fantasy baseball sites, for low seven figures. BaseballHQ is run by Ron Shandler who is nothing short of a legend in fantasy baseball. He sells subscriptions at $99 per year which is higher than any competitor…by far. I don’t talk to too many baseball die-hards that haven’t heard of Ron and most of them have subscribed to his service for many years.

BaseballHQ doesn’t have the traffic of some of its peers (RotoWire’s strength is in baseball but they cover multiple sports; BaseballProspectus is another great baseball focused site but they have some free content and only charge $39.95 for an annual subscription), but it certainly has significant subscription revenue at $99/year. However, FSV is not buying companies for their subscription revenue (KFFL now provides their content for free after being acquired by FSV over a year ago; I don’t see baseballHQ going the free route though…maybe a combo of free and subscription). What BaseballHQ provides FSV that is more important than the subscription revenue is a top quality name and high quality content that they can use to lead discussions with brand advertisers. The value of this is huge to FSV and to every FSV affiliate (Me!) running their ads. All vertical ad networks have their lead anchor sites when pitching advertisers. Owning these sites enables FSV to take the conversation from banner ads (most vertical ad networks that I have heard of generate anywhere from $2-$5 CPMs for banner ads) to more endemic advertising/sponsorship opportunities ($15-$20 CPMs or higher).

The recent partnership between FSV and USA Today/Gannett also has to play a key role here…what better content to include on USA Todays baseball section than content from the legend himself Ron Shandler? Top quality content and huge distribution is certainly a winning combination.

The guys at FSV are incredibly smart and clearly know what they are doing. They have taken 100+, mostly small, sports websites that on their own were probably earning around $0.50 CPMs from Google Adsense and aggregated them together to create a top 20 sports audience and immediately increase ad revenue potential by a factor of 10 (these are my guesstimates, but I think I am close). They are not stopping here though…they partnered with USA Today to get added distribution and they have made smart strategic acquisitions of leading brand name sites in the top sports to lock up top quality content. To get the attention of the top sports marketers that the founders of FSV have worked with in the past with the NFL, you need huge reach, high quality content and engaging user experiences…FSV’s ad sales pitch has gotten a lot easier over the past few weeks with the addition of USAToday/Gannett and now BaseballHQ. This is great for everyone running their ads and sharing their ad revenue as we will see more and more inventory sold at higher CPMs.

Congrats to both FSV and Ron Shandler!

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May 15, 2008 - Posted by | Vertical Ad Networks | ,

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