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Interview about fantasy sports with Vicente Fernandez, CEO & Co-Founder of Sportsmanias
Innovation is at the core of fantasy sports - Vicente Fernandez interview
Sportsmanias is leading the fantasy sports world
Sportsmanias is leading the fantasy sports worldSportsmanias

With the success SportsManias, the world's leading fantasy app, has experience in mobile messaging with their emoji keyboard, both in the U.S. and internationally, Vicente Fernández, CEO and Co-Founder and one of Forbes 30 under 30,  spoke in exclusive with SiS to share his knowledge about fantasy sports and what lies ahead for it.

SiS: What are the current main trends in fantasy sports?

VF: I think the main trends remain daily fantasy sports. We saw an explosion within the industry in the fall of 2015 and things have slowed down because of the legal landscape, but in the next six months or so there wil be additional clarity; and with the potential DraftKings and FanDuel merger, that will really open things up for consumers having one primary option, as well as consumers feeling more secure in the way that they are playing.

So that's one item, daily fantasy sports, that's the main trend. The other one is about fantasy content, that can be broken down into three different categories. One is the community... it's messaging or chats, that are being created within this apps. Fantasy is inherently social in nature, and it's about the competition, which you want to share with the person you're competing with. The second is podcasts and audio listening, and the third one is personalization, that I think goes a long way, and it will be a heavy trend heading into the next few years.

SiS: How are fantasy sports competing for the attention of fans with traditional sports?

VF: Fantasy sports augment traditional sports. It brings more fans to watch games and to follow them avidly. When you're playing fantasy sports you're invested in your team, and you feel like you have control. I see it in the fantasy users that we have, they constantly come back for more, because they want to win. Whether it's watching the games on television or keeping up with stats and the latest news, fantasy sports is great for traditional sports, and traditional sports should be embracing it; and I think they have, they have invested in daily fantasy sports platforms and created their own season-long platforms.

It's a little bit tricky, in that you have some fans who are more invested in their fantasy teams than to their local teams, but generally for the industry, fantasy sports complement traditional sports very well, because it brings more people to watch, consume and care.

SiS: How has innovation impacted the development of fantasy sports?

VF: Fantasy sports live on innovation. If you look at the way it started with fantasy baseball and being just pen and paper, and going to look up stats in the newspaper. With the web, fantasy sports really started to take off, it became so much easier to keep up with the players in your fantasy roster. And with the innovation of apps it has been incredible for fantasy sports as well, you can now draft, manage your team, look at the information you need on the go, and play it more casually than you used to.

For those who get really into it, the sprouting of new platforms to play more than just season-long, is really pushing the industry along. With personalization there's a lot of innovation to be had on that front, and with the content consumption of it. At the Red Zone Channel, there's a fantastic job in keeping fans up-to-date on what's going on generally during the NFL season, in terms of people scoring touchdowns and big plays that are very relevant to fantasy.

Ultimately we're getting to a point where video should be personalized to who you have in your fantasy roster, and you should be able to keep up with it in a way that's much easier and more entertaining.

Innovation is at the core of fantasy sports. It was taking traditional sports and personalizing it in a way that was very innovative, and very exciting. Then, with every technological advancement that has come out, it has become easier and more fun to play.

SiS: What has Sportsmanias done differently than its competitors to get to the top of the fantasy sports world?

VF: Really two things. First is the personalization element, when you import your fantasy team into Sportsmanias from a platform like ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sports or you manually put in your players, you get a real-time feed of content on your fantasy roster; it's like having your own editorial staff covering your team for you, you have your own writers, you have national experts, and as soon a story breaks about one of your players we recognize that article, that video, and bring it you in the app.

We talked about how fantasy players always want more information to get a competitive advantage, to follow on game day, and that's what we provide to the fan.

There's more content on Sportsmanias on your fantasy roster, than in any other platform, and that's a huge advantage in fantasy. And it's all coming from professional, credible sources, whether is a writer breaking the story locally, we're able to bring it to you in a fantasy context that's never been done before, or whether it's a fantasy expert, we're pick that in real time and deliver it to you immediately. In the next year we want to improve the personalized video experience, as well.

The second one is trash talking, which is at the heart of fantasy sports. Always going back and forth with the different member of your league, and that's what makes it fun. There's nothing more fun in 2017 than emojis and being able to personalize your trash talk, and that's what we left fans do. We partnered with the NFL Players Association, the MLB Players Association, you have all the players you have on your fantasy roster in emoji form doing their signature celebration or move, to share your passion. When your fantasy player like Cam Newton scores three touchdowns, you can share that emoji.

SiS: What role does social media such as Facebook and Twitter play in the growth of Fantasy Sports?

VF: Facebook and Twitter are very important for fantasy sports, which are inherently social. So when someone has a great day on fantasy, they post it on social media, and that spreads the word about the industry, capturing the excitement of playing fantasy sports and introducing casual consumers to it. We've seen tremendous growth in the past 5-10 years, we have over 57 million fans in North America and that has grown very much from the early 2000s; Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms have been a big part of that. On Twitter there's the best content on fantasy players, and that's the platform that Sportsmanias uses to get content. We're curating directly from Twitter, because all of the reporters, fantasy experts, the players, they're all talking about fantasy sports, they're talking about the players you have on your roster, and we're organizing that experience for you as a fantasy player.

On Facebook, you also have some very innovative things happening, were fantasy analysts are organizing Facebook Live with their fans, and those fans ask them questions in real time. Those are some of the ways, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are elevating the fantasy industry.

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