ESPN Takes Fantasies To FiOS TV

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ESPN has launched an interactive TV fantasy sports application that is initially available only to Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV subscribers in a few markets.

The feature allows FiOS TV subscribers to access real-time scores and statistics using their remote controls, set up and managed through ESPN.com.

“Fantasy [sports] is a huge priority for the company, in terms of extending our reach for that in every way, shape and form,” said David Preschlack, executive vice president of Disney & ESPN Networks affiliate sales. “This is a cool way to marry the functionality of the Internet with the television.”

Verizon first launched the service earlier this month in Portland, Ore. The service also is available to subscribers in Washington state and Buffalo, N.Y., and is scheduled to launch Friday in Virginia. No cable operators currently offer the ESPN fantasy sports application, Preschlack said.

In Portland, the telco this summer tested an interactive TV application pegged to the summer Olympic Games with NBC Universal and Ensequence.

ESPN’s fantasy application includes My Match Up, which tracks total fantasy points for a user’s weekly matchup, including individual player fantasy points; Box Score, which calculates total fantasy points for a user’s team and their opponent’s team; Roster, to track individual player starts; and provides player news and info.

At some point, ESPN may look to sell ads as part of the fantasy application, Preschlack said: “We’re obviously interested in interactive advertising.”

According to ESPN, participation in fantasy football on ESPN.com has increased by 30% this year compared with 2007. The programmer says fantasy sports users consume a whopping 19 hours and 47 minutes of ESPN media per week.

Verizon Wireless offers access to fantasy sports through ESPN’s MVP service, and Verizon also provides ESPN360.com,  the programmer’s online-only sports channel, to broadband subscribers.

Other operators that offer interactive TV applications for fantasy sports include DirecTV, as part of its Sunday Ticket football package; Time Warner Cable, with a football-tracking app developed by ITV company BIAP; and AT&T, which is partnering with Yahoo.

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