News Analysis: As many as 20 million adults are hooked on fantasy football and other online sports. How are the online sites handling this glut of traffic and data storage?
MENLO PARK, Calif.It wasnt exactly like watching Chris Berman, Chris Mortensen and Mel Kiper Jr.s hair helmet on ESPN during NFL Draft Day, waiting to see which lucky college players will be drafted in the first round.
But, to a slightly lesser degree, it had its own feeling of anticipation and excitement.
Were talking about a Silicon Valley-area Fantasy Football draft day a couple of weeks ago.
The scene: The lower back room of the legendary Dutch Goose, an old-fashioned, locally revered burger n suds sports bar and restaurant with the requisite peanut shells on the floor, pool table and high-definition video screens in every corner. The place is home to CEOs and blue collar folk alike.
A group of perhaps 40 participants crammed into a Goose room designed to seat about half that many. Drafters busily shuffled through their notes. A large board with a matrix was set up against a wall, with teams and corresponding player picks lined up.
"Yes! I got Shaun Alexander," said one beaming drafter, jubilant at landing the 2005 NFL rushing champion from the Seattle Seahawks with one of the first selections. And on it went, for about two hours.
Fantasy football assigns points to NFL players based on their performances (mostly yardage and touchdowns), and the game has become so popular that it is pushing the boundaries of technology and giving companies a new advertising vehicle.
At the end of the season, participants examine their players performance totals and win prizes for their knowledge and expertise.
Imagine this scene multiplied thousands of times across the country, across the world, online. An awful lot of people are getting into fantasy sportsmainly football and baseball.
With Game 1 of the 2006 NFL season is Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh (Steelers versus Miami Dolphins). The teams have been picked, the standings have been established and the races are on.
Approximately 16 million to 20 million adults and a similarly large number of people under 18 will check their players performances each week until the season begins to peter out in January ahead of the Super Bowl. It adds up to a lot of traficand potential storage issuesfor the host sites.
And all that valuable sports data (weekly and season statistics, personal backgrounds and photographs of players, team records, team logos and standings) is stored in servers belonging to ESPN.com, Yahoo.com, NFL.com, Viacoms CBSSportsLine.com and others.
Forum serves fantasy sports industry
The FSTA (Fantasy Sports Trade Association) is headed by Jeffrey R. Thomas of Kenosha, Wis., the founder and CEO of SportsBuff.com.
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The FSTA aims to provide a forum for interaction between hundreds of existing and emerging companies in the fast-growing fantasy sports industry.
"We serve the pioneers that invested in and grew the industry in the 1980s and 1990s. And we serve the visionaries, innovators, investors, advertisers and sponsors that would like to network and learn more about the fantasy sports industry," Thomas told eWEEK via e-mail.
Thomas said that the FSTA now has four years worth of research, so it is now beginning to get a handle on how widespread the phenomenon really is.
"A new FSTA study shows that 12 to 20 million people over 18 play fantasy sports. Thats a big range, so we use 16 million [as the median number]. Its not an exact science, but our research shows 7 percent to 10 percent of growth in [each of] the past few years," Thomas said.
Thomas said the FSTA does not have under-18 numbers but that they are "slated for next years research."
Gaming analysts have estimated that at least as many under-18 players are online each day as there are adults, so the estimated range is even greater for the total fantasy football participant pool: from 24 million to 40 million.
Next Page: Adding storage is part of the game.
Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz