A new online sports news and entertainment site, OPEN Sports, has signed a multiyear deal to make legendary NFL quarterback John Elway its spokesman for the site's Fantasy Football products.
Deerfield Beach-based opensports.com launched only a few weeks ago by Mike Levy, the founder and former chief executive of CBS Sportline.com.
As part of the deal, Elway will have a blog, predict winners of each NFL game and provide game analysis on Sean Salisbury's OPEN Sports show, Salisbury's Take. Salisbury is a former football analyst for ESPN.
The site hopes to reel in Fantasy fans by offering it's top-level Fantasy Football product for free for life for anyone who signs up now. Major sites like CBS Sportline.com charge a fee to use its top-level Fantasy sports services, which allow fans to create and manage teams and leagues based on real-life players and their statistics.
Fantasy sports services produce $500 million a year in fees and advertising revenue, according to a study from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
OPEN Sports promotes itself as being different from traditional sports news sites like ESPN or Sportsline in that it pulls sports news and opinions from all outlets. So if you follow the Florida Gators, you can see what was written from the Associated Press as well as from Gainesville news outlets.
"The big sports sites haven't really been challenged," Levy said of ESPN, CBS, Fox and Yahoo. "They almost look identical with similar photos and similar stories. Real sports fans what to see hundreds of inputs."
The site also has community features by letting users create blogs and submit photos. There are also plans to let users customize their own Fantasy game using Open API technology. Also, users will be able to put their OPEN Sports Fantasy game facts on outside social network profiles, like Facebook.
Levy said the company has raised $10 million in funding so far and has about 60 employees, many of which produce original stories and video content for the site.
Other company executives and advisors include Rob Phythian, the founder of Fanball.com; former E-Trade chief executive officer Christos Cotsakos; former Office Depot chairman and chief executive officer David Fuente; and Peter Pezaris, chief executive officer of Boca Raton-based social network Multiply.
Levy said he plans to get a major chunk of the online sports audience in about three years, with a goal of five million registered users and 10 million monthly unique visitors, which he said "is in the same ballpark'' as the top sports news destinations.