RSN’s Should Take Lead From Big Nets On Fantasy Front

CBS Sports announced Fantasy Football Today, a live 90-minute online show, will debut the first Sunday of the NFL season. CBS adds to its digital fantasy offerings, joining ESPN with pre-game fantasy football analysis that competes with the national pre-game shows during that all important few hours in fantasy football when owners set lineups for the week.

CBS and ESPN already broadcast a slew of live “traditional” NFL programming, which relegates fantasy to the digital-only world. Without local TV in the NFL, RSN’s are left holding a weekly studio show or game recap with little fan interest since everyone watches highlights all day on the major networks and online. While fantasy has crept into traditional football programming and game coverage, one thing we’ve learned is fantasy players always want more. Anything to get that edge.

Networks have tip-toed around fantasy for years now, almost afraid to dedicate a prominent weekly slot for coverage. If ESPN can televise a fantasy football special, any sports network can. Speaking mostly for NYC, my home, the RSN’s miss the boat in fantasy. Forget Jets and Giants weekly, promote fantasy football, turn the network into “the place” for fantasy football news. YES, SNY, and MSG have access to enough big names to generate interest. They can have leagues among analysts, between analysts and fans, or possibly even get players from another sport involved. I’m sure a few Yankees and Mets play fantasy football.

Take it to another level, make a reality series out of fantasy sports. Maybe it’s football and baseball to generate enough content. Fantasy owners in competitive leagues border lunacy with their dedication, it would certainly make for an interesting half hour show. RSN’s have an opportunity to capitalize on that lunacy, that constant need for information. Big name athletes and broadcasters with a big promotional push and good information can generate fan interest.

On the whole, this continues my theory that RSN’s (and some national’s) need to move away from repeat programming as much as possible. Radio simulcasts are one method, fantasy sports are another, especially during that down time after baseball before basketball and hockey hit full stride. Sponsors and advertisers will certainly pay a higher premium for original programming than another installment of fishing or harness racing. RSN’s have not fully capitalized on the potential of the NFL. SNY provided good Jets post-game coverage last season, but the NFL is so popular there is room to expand the pie.

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