0Fantasy football has become so popular in the past 10 years, it is now a staple on the NFL game coverage on CBS and FOX as well as a regular on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
Major League Baseball wants to try to capitalize on that success and expand the interest into fantasy baseball, whose participation lags far behind fantasy football. Gregg Klayman, head of the fantasy games division for MLB.com, said the number of fantasy baseball players have been estimated between 2 million and 10 million.
While it is impossible to know the exact number, Klayman figures 4 million is pretty close. That’s a large number, but it’s only a fraction of the 70 million fans who attend a major league game each year.
“What we’re doing is making a really concerted effort to expose fantasy baseball to more people and to get more people to give it a shot,” Klayman said.
Klayman concedes that football is more popular than baseball among fantasy players because it’s simpler and requires less of a time commitment. A typical fantasy football team has eight or fewer players and requires the team owner to spend roughly 15 minutes a week setting a lineup.
But fantasy baseball extends over a six-month season and requires daily lineup decisions. While the draft is almost always the high point of the season, Klayman notes, it is not long before leagues are plagued by dropouts.
“Everybody usually really enjoys the draft, but once it’s three weeks into the season and you look at your team and realize it needs some work, sometimes that’s intimidating for some people and they just drop out,” he said.
To encourage owners to stick it out all season, some of the fantasy games MLB.com is offering require no more than a minute a day to play. Others call for a more significant commitment.
Major League Baseball has envisioned the vast revenue fantasy games might generate. Last month it paid the players association $50 million over five years for the rights to use all player names, statistics and logos in fantasy baseball.
MLB has substantially increased the amount it is charging sites to buy a license. Sites with fewer than 5,000 subscribers must pay $2 per player in order to receive a license. Large sites — those with more than 5,000 subscribers, such as ESPN, Yahoo and CBS Sportsline — pay a flat fee of $500,000.
Yahoo has kept its fantasy baseball game free, though it offers what it calls Fantasy Baseball Plus for a cost. However, Yahoo’s free game is far superior to anything else on the Web, particularly ESPN’s game which charges $29.95 per team. Yahoo provides leagues with more customization options and flexibility than ESPN in administering their leagues.
Klayman, however, isn’t trying to pick sides. He’s simply looking to get more people participating in fantasy situs poke online qq, which he concedes will take work.
“Just by the nature of the type of game football is, it sets itself up pretty nicely for a fantasy game,” Klayman said. “Fantasy baseball generally hasn’t been as easy for the novice player to understand. That’s our job now, to educate that person.
“Our goal is not to own this business by ourselves. Our goal is to get out and grow the market and work together with our partners to build fantasy baseball into something like fantasy football has become. There is a lot of ground to cover, but by offering a lot of choices in the types of fantasy games we provide, we believe we can make a lot of progress.”