Fueled in large part by the Internet, Fantasy Football has become incredibly popular over the past 15 years, with print, online and broadcast outlets hosting leagues and providing detailed coverage for millions of ravenous team “owners.”
Mike Levy, chairman and CEO of OPEN Sports Network, was there at the beginning. One of the pioneers of Internet sports content, Levy founded Sportsline.com in 1994, launching an online Fantasy Football game a year later.
“It was fairly crude,” Levy told WebNewser.com in a recent phone interview from Las Vegas.
Not so the new generation of Fantasy Football games. Thanks to the advent of community and social media tools, online-based leagues continue to roll out next-generation features.
For example, OPENSports.com (which Levy started in 2008) and FOXSports.com on MSN are partnering this year on two Fantasy games — FOX Fantasy LIVE and FOX Fantasy Quick Challenge.
Levy calls FOX Fantasy LIVE, which allows unlimited, real-time substitutions, “really innovative. No one has seen anything like it. People can move players in and out of the games as they’re going on. It’s super complex.” (More so, no doubt, after a few beers.)
Quick Challenge features three different games in which players can go head-to-head or compete in a group on a week-to-week basis. Quick Challenge includes a salary cap and offers the option (as does FOX Fantasy LIVE) of playing for fun or cash.
Levy, who sold Sportsline to CBS in 2004, says OPENSports.com next year plans to unveil fantasy games for baseball and NASCAR. Of immediate concern, however, is the Fantasy Football draft, which for FOX Fantasy Football‘s nearly 475 public leagues begins today and runs for another week.
As for the man seen by some as a father of modern-day fantasy football, does Levy feel he bears any responsibility for the loss of productivity in the workplace due to our nation’s obsession with fantasy sports?
“Well, I hope so.”