Founded in 2006 to serve as the business backbone for a wide range of fantasy sports Web sites, Fantasy Sports Ventures is continuing to expand its footprint. The New York company that handles the marketing and advertising sales for some 400 Web sites across sports announced this week it has added 35 independent college Web sites, including NoleInsider focusing on FSU, and The Bulls Pen, which covers USF.
FSV was formed early on in the growth of fantasy sports as a way to help sites – many of them niche – build their businesses through dynamic online advertising, contests and promotions.
“We started about three years ago when the notion of fantasy sports marketing was just evolving,” FSV CEO Chris Russo said. “We really pioneered the notion that marketers could do marketing programs online beyond banner advertising.”
That means content widgets and modules and a variety of programs that promote advertisers and sponsors across FSV’s network. With 400 sites in its network, FSV offers companies an attractive advertising opportunity. Because it can count traffic to all its affiliated sites – it owns about 25 percent of them and has affiliations with the rest – FSV is ranked fifth among online sports properties with more than 10 million unique visitors each month, according to Nielsen Online. (Yahoo! Sports is No. 1, followed by ESPN, CBSSports.com and Fox Sports).
Since fantasy sports boast some 27 million players in the U.S., leagues and other companies recognize the power of the industry as a business tool.
“By adding 400 sites together, you have enough scale. You really become relevant to advertisers,” Russo said. “Marketers want to be around passion points. People care about fantasy sports. That’s a hobby and an avidity. More and more money is going to continue to move from traditional media to new media.”
While FSV might not be recognizable to consumers – its Fantasy Players Network branding can be found on many of its affiliated sites – the company allows for smaller sites with avid fan bases to flourish because of the company’s business backing.
“We are providing, at the end of the day, a way for niche sites to grow and prosper and continue offering more and better content to their users,” Russo said. “We’re helping a whole cottage industry.”
Among the programs FSV created was a Gillette Young Guns fantasy game that allowed fans to pick winning drivers from among a group of drivers, including Gillette’s sponsored drivers. The game was on Gillette’s Web site, but was promoted and distributed across FSV’s affiliated sites. For college basketball, the company launched a site this year devoted to the NCAA Tournament that featured Bobby Knight and Billy Packer, who provided analysis, and was sponsored by Irish Spring.
Russo said the company plans to activate a number of its promotions around events throughout the year, including the upcoming NBA draft and the NFL season.