There’s no shortage of fantasy football apps.
You’ve got established platforms like FanDuel and DraftKings setting the pace. Then there’s industry juggernauts like ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, and the NFL with apps of their own, running leagues and acting as informational and statistical support. And major up-and-coming apps, like tech-forward, tournament-style SportsLock, are popping up as major threats to disrupt the industry.
The players are huge, the stakes are high, and the prize pool can run thousands of dollars deep.
But SideLeague, a Chicago-based, daily fantasy app entering its first full fantasy football season, says it differentiates itself by staying small.
“We found that a lot of people were getting really discouraged coming in at 500th place,” said Amanda Pearson, SideLeague’s marketing coordinator. “That’s really not winning. We wanted to make smaller contests and smaller entry fees so that our users really do have a chance to win.”
So SideLeague is bringing fantasy sports back to its roots: smaller leagues with smaller payouts, heading up against real people who are actually in your circle. The app’s proprietary algorithm automatically signals a player when a Facebook friend or email contact joins the app.
Players can choose from six entry fees — ranging from free for rookie players to $20 maximums — and can only enter one game at a time per entry level.
“Instead of playing against 10,000 strangers in a huge pool of people, you’re playing against up to 25 people,” said Tony Giordano, SideLeague’s vice president. “On the other sites, you’ll see people spending $5,000 to $10,000 dollars a night, entering hundreds of contests. We saw that as a pretty big problem among the industry that really hasn't been addressed by any of our competitors, especially the big ones.”
Giordano said the format of their contest keeps the sharks at bay — what he deemed “pro activity” by players who enter as many contests as possible in order to stack up their chances of winning.
“These people are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on entry fees and essentially taking the majority of the winnings from the majority of the players,” he said. “Instead, we give everyone a fair shot at winning. Most people don’t have the money to put in $50 or $100 into a contest.”
Their mobile-first approach led to apps for both Android and iOS, powered by a 10-strong (and growing) team.
That team, Giordano said, prides itself on swimming against the current.
“Everyone’s copying what’s worked for some of the bigger companies, which is something we’ve been adamantly against since day one. We don’t want to do the same thing the big companies are doing. That’s not a winning proposition for us.”
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