The Facebook social networking website has launched an embedded fantasy football league from blackjack ace Jeff Ma, the MIT graduate involved in the real card counting group recently the subject of film 21 and best-selling book Bringing Down the House.
According to USA Today, Ma is hoping to introduce a younger generation to the game of fantasy football and has teamed up with primary business partner Mike Kerns to launch a programme enabling leagues to be managed within Facebook. The two revealed that fantasy sports are ideally suited to online social networks because the leagues are typically formed by groups of friends with common interests and bonds.
Ma's company, Citizen Sports, has partnered with Sports Illustrated for the first time to create the new Facebook league, which has been dominated so far by Yahoo.com, ESPN.com and CBS Sportsline.
The newspaper reported that nearly 100,000 people had downloaded the program after only a few weeks on Facebook with interest expected to intensify as more fantasy football players hold their drafts before the National Football League season starts on September 4.
Sports Illustrated is owned by Time Warner and will be providing content for the new fantasy football programme along with handling all the advertising sales and promoting the service in print and online.
'We think this can change the fantasy landscape,' said Jeff Price, President of Digital Operations for Sports Illustrated.
'The switching costs for people to leave a league to come over to another site is a significant hurdle.'
Price revealed that he believes it will be easier for Citizen Sports because having its programme run on Facebook, where millions of people already spend hours every day, ‘brings fantasy football to the player instead of having the player come to you’.