Leadership in the fantasy sports hosting market has been fairly stagnant in recent years, with the big three players (Yahoo Yahoo, ESPN ESPN and CBS CBS) combining for a dominant market share.
However, one fairly new company that seems primed to gain share in 2014 is Fantrax – a company which is building its brand recognition by focusing on the “dynasty” segment of the marketplace.
In many ways, the concept of dynasty fantasy sports is the antithesis to daily fantasy sports. Participants are not seeking immediate gratification, but rather attempt to prove their skill over the long haul by building teams that include even low-level minor league players.
Fantrax has taken a number of steps to make their host site especially desirable for dynasty players. For instance, the site offers a very deep list of minor league players in its regular database, and allows users to request the addition of unlisted minor league players to the active database overnight.
A quick visit to the Fantrax website shows an extremely deep minor league database that includes even relatively obscure personal favorites Chris Flexen (a 2012 fourteenth round draft pick of the Mets) and Manuel Joseph (a 19-year old Dominican League shortstop, currently under contract by the Tigers).
Fantrax also offers its private leagues the option of a Treasurer service, similar to LeagueSafe, which collects league entry fees and pays out the league winners. While there may be some legal risk associated with collecting entrant money, the upside to offering a Treasurer service is it provides one-stop shopping for fantasy sports participants.
To the extent that Fantrax is taking market share from any of the big three host sites, CBS Sports is its most likely target. Of the big three, CBS currently lists the most minor league players in its database, and has a mechanism for allowing individual leagues to add placeholders for additional names.
It will be interesting to see if Fantrax is able to become a fourth major player in fantasy sports hosting by focusing on the dynasty segment, or whether its presence will lead CBS Sports and others to increase their minor league player databases.
Either way, the increased competition benefits dynasty players in terms of more product choices and the potential for cost competition.
Marc Edelman is an Associate Professor of Law at the City University of New York’s Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business, where he has published more than 25 law review articles on sports law matters, including “A Short Treatise on Fantasy Sports and the Law.” Nothing contained in this article should be construed as legal advice.
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