CBSSports.com is looking to entice more fantasy baseball players this season by offering something most fantasy products can’t: live baseball.
The site has inked a multiyear pact with Major League Baseball to offer its subscribers access to both live audio footage of all MLB games during the 2011 season and up-to-the-minute video highlights from MLB.com as games are being played.
Now, as fans follow their team’s progress in real time, they’ll be able to go beyond just live stats. Users will receive alerts when one of their players does something highlight-worthy—such as hit a home run—which they can then watch on CBSSports.com.
Or if one of their top relief pitchers enters a game in a key spot, fans can immediately tune in to that game’s live radio feed to see how he performs. More than 2,400 live radio broadcasts will be available throughout the season, which begins on March 31.
“People are going to find different ways to use this content,” predicted Rich Calacci, CBSSports.com’s svp, advertising sales. “What we are doing is making as wide a selection of content for our fantasy players available and letting them use it as they’d like.”
Calacci is betting that the live audio feeds may attract displaced baseball fans to sign on. “That’s a dynamic we really want to exploit,” he said.
To receive access to the MLB.com-provided video and audio, fans must be subscribers to CBS’ Fantasy Baseball Commissioner product, which is also the official fantasy product of MLB.com. Subscriptions run $179.99 per league (a typical league splits that cost among a dozen or so players).
CBSSports has begun seeking sponsors for the impending fantasy season. Calacci said his team is in discussions with a major quick-service restaurant and an insurance provider. To attract brands, Calacci is touting the addition of audio and video as helping to drive deeper engagement for fantasy baseball.
According to Nielsen data, despite fantasy football’s higher profile, fantasy baseball’s longer season and intricate statistics appear to result in more online screen time. Fantasy baseball users spent an average of 111 minutes per person on the Web during a recent baseball season as compared to fantasy football users, who spent 76 minutes per person online during a recent football season.
“When you have more engagement and more sign-ups, that’s a real powerful combination,” said Calacci.