CBS Makes Fantasy Breakthrough Amid Controversy

CBS Sports will unveil the first College Football fantasy game this season using actual player names. The NCAA they oppose CBS’ decision in no uncertain terms, which makes for interesting bedfellows since CBS holds a lucrative college basketball television contract with the NCAA, plus broadcast with multiple college football conferences.

Opponents argue using the names violates the student-athletes amateur status, similar to selling merchandise with players names on it would. However, CBS based its decision on the recent court dismissal of MLBAM’s case against CDM, which implicitly advocated names and stats as public domain that the league’s don’t own. That ruling opens the door for future disputes over licensing fees for fantasy games, and now the use of collegiate athlete names.

CBS and the college athletes are the big winners. As the first major fantasy player to launch a college game with names, CBS could lure ESPN and Yahoo fantasy users over, further engage their current fantasy user basis. Not far behind pro football in popularity – or gambling – expect college football fantasy games to take off quickly, generating participant numbers close to NFL fantasy withing two-three years. Fantasy players are notorious highly engaged users always looking for a new challenge, and will flock to fantasy college games. Plus, college football has many devoted fans that hold a tight connection with players and teams at schools they attend. Expect members the games to draw new fantasy users from the dedicated fan base. CBS should see a major boost in traffic, and generate solid ad revenue.

On the other side of the equation, the players benefit from more publicity. Now the growing number of fantasy stat heads in the world will know who the running back on Arizona State is and how many receiving yards the tight end on Stanford had last season. For those that make the pros it will help boost marketing deals from the beginning, not that they need much help after all the hype the draft receives.

Further outside the box, its another strike against the NCAA and for eventually providing college players some form of benefits. Perhaps athletes can join an organized group upon graduation and collect license fees from their playing days. Maybe the NCAA will eventually cave and allow athletes to receive a stipend. Perhaps schools will try to benefit from the games.

For now, CBS gets the ball rolling, the NCAA gathers its thoughts on how and if to fight CBS, the public anxiously waits for another way to test their fantasy skills, while ESPN and Yahoo wait on the sidelines. Will they get to market with a game before the season starts later this month? If not, CBS has a golden opportunity to steal valuable users from two prime competitors. Countdown to kickoff is on.

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One Response

  1. I think it’s going to be difficult for college football fantasy to have the success that pro ball does. The teams and players are more obscure and that aren’t nearly as many diehard/expert fans.

    We prefer a less time consuming format using teams instead. If you don’t want to commit to the time fantasy requires you may want to give it go to.

    http://www.last2left.com/whatsinplay/college-football-2008-2009

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