First Ever “Draft Week” Celebration (Aug. 13-24) Going Local with 1,000 Fantasy Football House Parties Nationwide; Draft Events in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
SportsCenter Fantasy Draft Special to Air August 20
ESPN kicks off the 2009 Fantasy Football season with the return of free ESPN Fantasy Football presented by GEICO and GMC on ESPN.com. The game will once again feature a broad lineup of free features including live scoring, multiple draft options, mobile alerts and team management, fully customizable rules and scoring, and the broadest collection of expert analysis, news and statistical information available. ESPN Fantasy Football players can begin drafting (and mock-drafting) on ESPN.com now and will be served by integration across ESPN’s many media platforms.
Paying homage to its early beginnings, ESPN will commemorate the 2009 season by going local, organizing 1,000 house parties nationwide during the week of August 24 for the draft. Each will be hosted by either an ESPN.com league manager or ambassador (selected from a pool of nearly 7,000 applicants), at their home, in coordination with ESPN.com and House Party, Inc. Additionally, on August 29, ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000 will host 400 players from 40 leagues for a draft event featuring Chicago-specific leagues and prizes. The event will feature a Q&A with ESPN Fantasy Sports guru Matthew Berry and NFL analysts John Clayton and Mike Ditka. Similar draft events will be hosted in Washington D.C. (August 21), Philadelphia (August 22) and New York (August 24, 25 & 31).
“We’re kicking off fantasy football this year by celebrating it the way it began – in people’s homes and social circles,” said Jason Waram, vice president of fantasy games for ESPN. “The strength of this game is rooted in its communities and the sports passions they share, and that is why we’ve seen ESPN Fantasy Football grow nearly exponentially since it began on ESPN.com, including over 33 times the participation since 2005 alone.”
Across multiple platforms, ESPN will feature a complete lineup of news, information, analysis and entertainment during National Fantasy Football Draft Week from August 13-24 in anticipation of this year’s draft, including the return of Fantasy Football Now – the Emmy Award-winning live Sunday morning program on ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile TV. ESPN’s Berry will be the lead analyst, joined by a collection of additional contributors each week. ESPN’s digital media platforms will also feature the daily Fantasy Focus video program. Other coverage via TV, radio, online, mobile and print leading up to and throughout the season includes:
ESPN FANTASY FOOTBALL
ESPN Fantasy Football will once again be presented by GEICO and GMC with all of the free features from last season, plus added features including:
- Newly Redesigned FantasyCast – a must-have online companion during fantasy football Sundays, the new ESPN FantasyCast features more interaction – including live chat with ESPN experts, free live player-by-player scoring, live updating box scores and results, integrated Gamecast and a comparison to the players on the opposing roster. All completely free to all players.
- Fantasy Football Now – the Emmy Award-winning Sunday live program will start every Sunday at 12:00 p.m. ET and going right up to kickoff. On both ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile TV, fans online will be able to watch, chat live, get injury updates and submit questions – all from the interactive Fantasy Football Now page.
- Mock Draft Lobby – the ESPN Mock Draft Lobby lets players drop in at any time to run through a draft, try out a new draft strategy or just see who and how other ESPN players are drafting.
- Champions and Insider’s Leagues– New this year, ESPN.com will host Champions Leagues for previous winners to challenge their knowledge against others in a winners-only league. ESPN Insider subscribers can also face off against other members in ESPN Insider-only Leagues, with priority preference in picking their draft time.
- Multiple Draft Options – teams and leagues can draft in multiple ways, including
- Online Auction Draft – ESPN.com is bringing back the option to conduct their draft auction style – bidding against other competitors for top players, and managing a total budget for drafting their team of players.
- Live Online Draft – Live online drafts can be public or private. Set a time and invite friends, or drop by the ESPN Live Draft lobby to find a league, join, and draft -- anytime day or night.
- Automated Online Drafts – Have your league set their personal player rankings, set the draft order and date, and let ESPN.com’s draft engine do the rest.
- Fantasy Football Draft Kit – ESPN.com’s free Fantasy Football Draft Kit will give every player complete breakdowns of sleepers, busts and top keepers; Top 250 players; position-by-position rankings; offseason changes and updated depth charts; projected stats; expert mock drafts and more.
- Fantasy Focus – The originally produced daily video program, exclusively on ESPN.com, ESPN Mobile TV and available as a video podcast via the ESPN.com Podcenter and Apple’s iTunes Store.
- Smack Boards – Talk smack to your friends and opponents throughout the week and on game day using the dynamic chat windows integrated right into league and scoring pages.
- Draft Pick Trading – players have the option to trade draft picks in leagues with a fixed draft order.
- Player Cards 2.0 – embedded player information cards allow players to see weekly projections, recent news from ESPN.com, game-by-game stats, graph views and more without leaving their own roster.
- Keeper Options – ESPN provides League Managers of existing keeper leagues the ability to transfer keeper settings by entering keepers prior to their draft.
- Customizable Rules and Scoring – players can set up their league and scoring as they want…and can even include punters, if they want.
- League Message Boards, Chat and Polls – players can discuss news, create their own polls and even chat online – all from right within their ESPN.com league.
On ESPN.com, players will again find the most useful and comprehensive information, analysis and insights in the industry. ESPN has assembled an unmatched roster of writers, analysts and media personalities, led by Berry (a.k.a. “The Talented Mr. Roto”), a five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award-winner, multiple FSWA award-winners Eric Karabell and Tristan Cockcroft, ESPN.com’s sports injury expert Stephania Bell, and award-winning analyst Christopher Harris along with the team of experts at ESPN Scouts Inc.
Fans will also find football analysis and insight from ESPN.com’s leading pro football insiders, including Hall of Famers John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli; Mike Sando, Matt Mosley, Kevin Seifert, Bill Williamson, Pat Yasinskas, Tim Graham, James Walker and Paul Kuharsky of the NFL Blog Network; senior writer Jeffri Chadiha; ESPN The Magazine’s Seth Wickersham and Scouts Inc.’s Jeremy Green and Matt Williamson.
- Fantasy Football Draft Kit Mobile App – A free mobile app for iPhone and iPod Touch devices that will feature video from NFL Live and contributions from several ESPN analysts.
- Mobile Team Management – players with access to the ESPN Mobile Web site will be able to set rosters, trade and waive players, and check scoring – all from your phone.
- Mobile Scores and Alerts – players can keep up with their team while away, with the ability to see their team, scores and latest news on their mobile device, or have breaking news, scoring, injury and substitution alerts sent directly to you on the go (all carriers).
- Mobile TV – ESPN’s original series Fantasy Football Now will be available every Sunday from 12-1 p.m. on ESPN Mobile TV, along with other fantasy football-related video content from ESPNEWS and other ESPN programs.
TV & RADIO
This season, ESPN will bring fans more fantasy football insights, information and analysis on its television and radio networks than ever before.
SportsCenter Fantasy Draft Special: On August 20 at 7:00 p.m., ESPN will televise its fourth annual "SportsCenter Fantasy Draft Special." The program, hosted by ESPN’s Suzy Kolber, will feature a preview special highlighted by analysis and debate from a number of ESPN analysts and experts, including Berry, Bell, NFL analyst Mark Schlereth and NFL reporter Adam Schefter.
NFL Live, SportsCenter, First Take, Mike & Mike, ESPNEWS: ESPN’s signature news, information and analysis programs will feature fantasy football content integration, with additional in-depth attention to fantasy football in late August.
ESPN Radio: Throughout the season, ESPN Radio will devote attention to fantasy football in popular programs like Mike & Mike in the Morning (simulcast on ESPN2), The Herd with Colin Cowherd (simulcast on ESPNU), The Scott Van Pelt Show (second hour simulcast on ESPN2) and will be featured on Football Tonight.
ESPN Radio and the ESPN.com PodCenter will bring fans two original podcasts dedicated to fantasy football this season:
- ESPN Fantasy Focus Football – daily – approx. 30 minutes (5 days per week in-season only). Hosted by Berry and Nate Ravitz, and featuring a host of guests and interviews, the podcast will provide player previews, game overviews, injury analysis with Bell and strategies.
- ESPN Football Today with Jeremy Green – daily – approx. 30 minutes. Jeremy Green of Scouts Inc. talks all things football with in-depth pre- and post-game analysis, players, coaches and more.
The fifth-annual stand-alone fantasy football publication from ESPN, is on newsstands now and features Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald. The 144-page guide delivers expert analysis and insider information from ESPN’s fantasy experts, television personalities and writers from ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. The guide, one of the top selling guides since its launch, features 640 player reports, an expert mock draft, top sleepers and busts, movers and shakers, injuries, draft strategies and a tear-out draft cheat sheet, and like last season, includes free online updates throughout the preseason on ESPN.com. It sells for $7.99.