Elevation sensation: Inside ESPN Fantasy Basketball’s 56-percent signup increase

ESPN Fantasy Log

ESPN Fantasy is on a roll.

On the heels of record-setting sign-ups for ESPN Fantasy Football and the launch of the new ESPN Fantasy App, fans are signing up for ESPN Fantasy Basketball in record numbers.

Participation is up 56 percent over last year and continues to grow, even as the 2016-17 regular season continues through its first month and Wednesday’s NBA doubleheader on ESPN.

Front Row asked Chris Jason, senior director, Fantasy Product Management, for a little insight into how the ESPN Fantasy product team is getting it done.

We also knew that millions of our fantasy football players followed the NBA, so making fantasy basketball available to these fans alongside their football experience made it easy for them to create or join leagues and play fantasy basketball for the first time. The result is we have set a record for players, and we’re still getting thousands of signups each day. – Chris Jason

How did ESPN Fantasy record landmark numbers for basketball signups?
It’s been a massive team effort. We have the absolute best team of developers, designers, engineers, Quality Assurance team, content folks. Everyone. It’s a cliché, but all of us working on ESPN Fantasy are so passionate about their jobs, and it shows in our product.

The ESPN Fantasy App was the most-used sports application in October with 3.5 billion minutes consumed, which is also a new single-month record for the sports category.

The groundwork for our great start in fantasy basketball started when we launched the new ESPN Fantasy App in August. The new app combined football, basketball, baseball, and hockey into a single app. We knew the majority of fans who played ESPN fantasy basketball also played football, so by combining the apps we were making their lives a lot easier. We also knew that millions of our fantasy football players followed the NBA, so making fantasy basketball available to these fans alongside their football experience made it easy for them to create or join leagues and play fantasy basketball for the first time. The result is we have set a record for players, and we’re still getting thousands of signups each day. We won’t close sign-ups until after the new year.

What can you tell us about plans for ESPN Fantasy moving forward?

“Our objective is to move Fantasy from a five or six-month activity, which it is today, into a year-round pursuit by continually improving our current game experiences, but also developing new games and new audiences.”

ESPN set new records for FFL this season, as well. How much do you attribute that to the new ESPN Fantasy App?
We’ve been the leader in fantasy football for a long time, and we’ve had the most fans playing fantasy football for several years. But the excitement of the new app and its importance to our business was infectious across the company this year, which resulted in our first-ever Fantasy Football Kickoff Marathon.

It was a great event that our fans noticed and our employees loved being a part of, and it was probably the biggest promotion we could ever think of to make fans aware of the new app. Twenty-eight straight hours of fantasy football programming across television, radio, and digital that produced the largest signup total in the history of our game.

At times, #fantasymarathon was trending at No. 1 on Twitter. So the Marathon was huge for us, but our marketing team has played a massive role, as well, both in attracting new fans and retaining returning players. And our ESPN Fantasy Football game and app are simply better, with more written and video content for fans, new personalized alerts to help fans manage their team, and improved FantasyCast live-scoring features. The results have been great: The ESPN Fantasy app was the most-used sports application in the world in September with 2.8 billion minutes consumed.

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