Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 Fantasy Sports Conference recap

By Steve Cirvello (posted by Rick Morris)

NOTE: Due to a technical snafu, this column is having to be re-posted from when it was originally written just after the conference in mid-November.

This past week, the annual Sports Business Journal Fantasy Sports & Technology Conference, sponsored by the Fantasy Sports Association, took place in midtown Manhattan. It is a yearly summit where anyone who's anyone working in the Fantasy Sports space converges for a day-and-a-half full of panel discussions, product demonstrations, and networking.

This year's edition was the strongest yet, highlighted by two special Q&A sessions. The first, with MLB Network analysts Billy Ripken and Tom Verducci, focused on not only the sustainability of the World Champion San Francisco Giants as a viable contender for years to come, but also the economic state of the game and current free agents now available on the market. Of course, the session was not complete about bringing up Billy's beloved brother, Cal Ripken Jr., and he told a humorous story about how different the two of them had been treated on separate trips to
China. Billy often referred to his brother as, "The Golden Boy", which got some laughs from the attendees.

The follow-up Q&A was with Miami Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross, which not only touched on his struggling team, but also on the latest technology to hit NFL stadiums in the form of the new FanVision device, which retails for $199 and is like having a portable television in your hands in your seat during the game. Ross also discussed other topics such as NFL revenues, labor negotiations, as well as his thoughts on the upcoming Super Bowl in 2014 that will be the first held in an outdoor stadium in a cold weather city (the New Meadowlands Stadium).

Other highlights of this years event included:

^ An interview with CBS Sports President Sean McManus and David Levy, head of Turner Broadcasting regarding the deal to air the upcoming 2011 NCAA March Madness College Basketball Tournament on TBS-owned stations and who will be calling the games and analyzing the match-ups from the studio.

^ A panel of Fantasy Sports experts from NBC, Yahoo!, and Rotowire among others discussing new ways of monetizing and distributing existing content across multiple platforms.

^ A panel on Social Media in Sports and the task of monetizing it with representatives from Yahoo! Sports, the NBA and the YES Network among others.

^ The localization of content featuring panelists from ESPN, Comcast Sports, SB Nation, as well as Sporting News Publisher Jeff Price.

^ The future of Sports Content with the birth of the new iPad tablet and what sports fans and consumers can expect in the years ahead. Attendees heard thoughts from individuals who work in the mobile content space from Turner, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and MLB.com. A follow-up panel focused on the future of 3D in sports broadcasting with representatives from ESPN, Comcast, the NBA and the YES Network weighing in.

^ The Conference concluded with a discussion revolving around a look at the future of Sports Gaming and Licensing with CEO's from several outlets, highlighted by Senior VP Andrew Wilson from EA Sports.

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