Last year at this time, Bloomberg Sports announced its entrance into the fantasy sports marketplace with with great fanfare. Maximizing over 25 years of successful analytic technology, the company built a state of the art online suite of tools to help every fantasy player make better decisions. They also launched a professional product in conjunction with MLB.com to help all Major League clubs improve and streamline their player analysis.
As with any startup launch, there were fits and starts and a retooling as consumer feedback came into play throughout the course of the season. The result for 2011 is the launch of the second season of "Front Office" this week with a new look, and a better, more streamlined offering of tools for both the casual and the diehard fan.
There will also be a mobile version this year, which gives Bloomberg a strong chance to continue to grow market share amongst fantasy players. One of the biggest challenges the brand had to overcome was making the product playable in any league format, a problem that has now been addressed and overcome according to Bloomberg Sports head Bill Squadron. "The biggest change is the seamless integration of our tools with each fantasy player's Yahoo, CBS or ESPN's league settings, allowing our projections and recommendations to be tailored to each player's needs," he said. "No other tools do that."
And while the integration is a key differentiator, so was the price. Last year's tools were set in excess of $30 for the consumer, while this year's tools will be offered for only $19.95 for the full season, a clear sign that the company is aware of what the market will bear now as opposed to last year. Still, with the plethora of free tools and "advice" out there, why would Bloomberg still think there is a viable option for a pay tool?
Squadron explains: "For the same reason people are always willing to pay for a premium product -- they get greater value. Our proprietary rankings system -- "B-Rank" -- uses technology developed over 25 years for the financial markets, and it's now specifically tailored to each player's league settings," he added. " And no one provides a comparable Trade Analyzer that both recommends trades every day and evaluates trade our subs are considering."
The addition of a mobile app will also increase visibility and usability for the fantasy player on the go. Mobile is the fastest growing segment of the digital space, and by offering a mobile option now, the company gives those investing dollars portability in their play for the first time. "Mobile is just as important to our business as the online version," Squadron commented. "Mobile platforms -- iPhone, iPad, Android -- will continue to increase in popularity and usage. We have to be able to meet those needs of our subscribers, and it's especially important in fantasy sports where you need to make daily -- sometimes hourly -- decisions based on the latest information."
On the professional side, Squadron noted that 17 MLB clubs have now adapted the service after its first year of testing, including the Dodgers, Angels, Mets, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Royals. Added offerings now include video and the ability to evaluate and track every player in a team's system, all with customizable and proprietary parameters created exclusively for each club. Bloomberg is also working with former MLB pitching coach Rick Peterson to advise them on how to best integrate with the clubs. Peterson was a big supporter of the tools when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers last season.
Bloomberg Sports is also continuing to offer up its highly popular "Ballpark Figures" video segments as added content for bloggers and has developed custom widgets for each team for fans to use and interact with. They also have veteran fantasy baseball analyst Jonah Keri on staff as well to help pull data and speak about the product. Keri's work will get an even bigger boost in the coming month when his new book about the Tampa Rays, "The Extra 2 %," hits the stands.
All in all, season two of the analytic world for Bloomberg Sports looks to be an interesting one for fans. A new set of offerings, improved graphics and continued detail in customer service will help the company continue to grow and make them a potential "must have" for anyone interested in stats, fantasy or even following their team on a day to day basis. For all the details go to Bloombergsports.com.
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