Thursday, October 12, 2006

We Live In A "Fantasy Sports" World

Consider this:

Time Warner Cable subscribers in Green Bay, San Antonio, Austin and Columbia, South Carolina, will have access to the MSO’s Cable Fantasy Football Tracker, which allows them to “keep track of player performances onscreen while viewing another channel.” The service launched in Green Bay last year (MULTICHANNEL.com, 9/19). Everest, the local MSO in K.C., has also launched its own Fantasy Football Tracker (MULTICHANNEL.com, 9/19).

That's right. American's can't get enough football. From 9 AM on Sunday morning until 2 AM on Tuesday morning, American's can watch football and related football news coverage on ESPN, CBS, NBC, NFL Network and FOX. That means that one could sit on the couch for nearly three straight days and watch the National Football League exclusively. Football consistently draws the highest sports ratings in our country, destroying its Nascar and Major League Baseball competition on a weekly basis.

Americans not only love watching football, but they love feeling like they are part of the league. This phenomenon is best seen through the most popular fantasy sport, which is fantasy football, ahead of fantasy baseball and fantasy hockey. Millions of Americans participate in fantasy football leagues every year, whether they're run through yahoo, cbs sportsline, sports illustrated, espn, or another independent host. In these leagues, people get to run their own team, choose their own players through a draft, and manage their team throughout the season in an attempt to accumulate higher scores than the other competitors in the league. Some leagues are run for cash wagers, while others are not. Either way, millions of Americans are watching their televisions closely on Sundays and Mondays, as they attempt to monitor the progress of "their fantasy players".

Knowing how much attention fantasy leagues have garnered, cable MSO's like Time Warner have created new technology that enables viewers to keep tabs on their fantasy players without missing one minute of the NFL games. By doing this, the MSO’s are using new technology to keep viewers watching, while creating a sense of personalization for the viewer. Fans can keep tabs on "their" fantasy players all day long, without having to log onto their PC and check the internet for scores and statistics.


Additionally, MSOs are creating a new means of reaching viewers with advertisements. This fantasy sports tracker will be live on screen all day and will give advertisers the opportunity to tag their logo onto the screen, all while reaching thousands of veiwers per second. It gives advertisers instant access to viewers and households, while creating an association with the NFL and Fantasy Football.

MSOs are taking advantage of this new media technology in an effort to increase ad sales, increase ratings, and increase the personalization of their programming. In the coming future, more advancements like this fantasy football tracker will be available to MSOs as they strive to improve their ratings and ad sales. Interactive television and VOD give advertisers new methods advertising, while creating a personalized, interactive sports experience for their viewers.

As a sports fan, I am excited by these recent developments. It makes the sports viewing experience more pleasurable and exciting. It keeps me informed about the leagues I follow, and gives me access to more information than I could ever need. However, I am concerned that new media and technology could potentially cause an overflow of advertisements in sports programming. I don't want to be bombarded by ads and logos as I watch my favorite team play. Hopefully MSOs will keep the power in the control of the viewer, but it is doubtful that the MSOs will turn down ad dollars to keep the sports viewing experience pure. Sports fans will just have to wait and see.


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