As the Major League Baseball season gets underway this week in ballparks all around the country, it also marks the start of the fantasy baseball season. People around the world are marking their final roster tweaks and getting ready for a very long baseball season.
The fact that fantasy sports are big business is something not lost on the folks at Bloomberg. One of the country's top news services took a long look at how they could best serve those who play fantasy baseball and they came up with more than a few ideas.
They work with MLB.com and USA Today to name a few of their clients. Bloomberg also offers a video service that many regional sports networks use in their pre- and post-game shows hosted by Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria.
Talking with Bill Squadron, the sports director of Bloomberg Sports, we looked at how the news service was helping those who are playing the game.
Williams: Tell me about the tools you developed for the broadcasters.
Squadron: What we have developed for broadcasters are twofold...they can enhance the second screen which people are using to give added analytical data to any scenario going on in a game, from pitch location to speed to any other perameters that can come up in a batter/pitcher matchup. The tools also give the broadcaster more enhanced data research almost in real time, so a production crew can program in and provide the best possible background for anything that could happen statistically in a game. It also provides the broadcasters with a wide array of tools to make sure they can do their best preparation possible for any game. As far as broadcast goes, we can provide custom designed visual tools that will enhance the screen...pitch locations, counts, potential outcomes, to make the viewing experience much more interesting than ever before. We tested several different options during last year's postseason with Fox and Turner and the response was very positive. We will also be able to provide customized reports for pre and postgame shows that will also give added value to the total game experience.
Williams: How has fantasy sports changed the way fans watch games?
Squadron: Fantasy has changed the way fans consume sport because it gives you the chance to literally form your own team and compete against your friends. However, our work is also in enhancing every part of the experience through enhanced analytic analysis almost in real time. The tools we provide can really make the game more enjoyable and give you a batter understanding of the nuances of baseball now, but many sports in the future, in a very simple and visually compelling format. It makes watching games more interactive and definitely more enjoyable, whether you are a diehard or a casual fan.
Williams: What got Bloomberg into the fantasy sports business?
Squadron:The fantasy sports business, combined with the gaming business, is in the billions according to some estimates and it is growing around the world. What used to be just baseball and football has expanded into fantasy golf, NASCAR, soccer and soon sports like cricket and rugby so it is still growing. The use of mobile devices has also given rise to a new level of fantasy play, where you can literally update your teams and play micro games on your handheld device. Because Bloomberg is such a global driver in business analytics, the fantasy business has been a good fit for the company, and we are excited to keep it growing.