Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More Details About SI.com Foray Into Fantasy Sports

SI Digital, which this week struck a multi-year deal with Bay Area-based Citizen Sports Network to develop sports content on social media, has supplanted Federated Media Inc. as the preferred advertising sales agent for Citizen Sports, which until recently was called ProTrade. SI will sell inventory for the entire Citizen Sports suite of products, including those it will not have a direct hand in developing. Federated, which has worked with Citizen Sports for about 18 months, still holds some ad sales rights, but Citizen Sports CEO Mike Kerns does not expect much activity from that as a result of the SI accord. Kerns: “This is the best opportunity for us going forward. By marrying our development work and applications on Facebook with the SI brand and their sales force, we think that’s a potent combination that can change the landscape.” The initial flagship offering from the partnership will be a co-branded fantasy football game launching this summer on Facebook.com, an effort that will be Citizen Sports’ first attempt at a traditional commissioner-style game after its stock market-inspired offering with ProTrade. It also marks SI’s first meaningful effort to get into fantasy games after previously staying on the content and analysis side of the business and surrendering actual game-playing to established market leaders such as Yahoo.com, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com and SportingNews.com. The football game, however, will be quickly joined by a similar fantasy game for European soccer, with other int'l games in the planning stages. SI Digital President Jeff Price: "That is a huge component to this partnership. Facebook is really an international platform, and offers us an opportunity to develop some truly differentiated offerings.” The SI-Citizen Sports deal is a revenue-sharing pact, and at present does not include any transfer of equity. “At some point, [transferring Citizen Sports equity to SI] might make some sense. But we have a rather tight group of investors, and right now, we’re simply focused on executing on the partnership and the products we want to bring to market,” Kerns said.

By Eric Fisher, Staff Writer, SportsBusiness Journal

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