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July 2015

Yahoo brings real money to its fantasy sports app

By Sports app
The new Fantasy Sports feature allows users to play daily games, instead of contests that last an entire sports season.

Screenshot by CNET

Yahoo hopes to score points by expanding its already popular Fantasy Sports app.

The internet giant announced on Wednesday that it will host daily and weekly fantasy sports games where users can place real bets. Previously, Yahoo’s service only offered one-season contests.

In fantasy sports, users assemble a team of basketball, football, or baseball players and then earn points based on how well those players perform in real-life games. Yahoo is already a top brand in the world of fantasy sports providers, alongside companies like ESPN and CBS. (CBS is the parent company of CNET.)

Yahoo has good reason to push further into fantasy sports. Viewership for the hobby grew 40% last year, with more than 56 million people playing in the United States and Canada, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. The average player also spends $465 a year on contest fees, according to the trade association.

Fantasy sports have been a beacon of hope for Yahoo, with CEO Marissa Mayer still working to turn the struggling company around. Since taking the helm three years ago, Mayer has tried to remake the company for the mobile age as consumers spend more time on their smartphones and tablets than on desktops and laptops. . But while it revamped all of Yahoo’s mobile apps and services — from Yahoo Mail to Weather to Finance — the company still faces declining revenue.

With its new feature, Yahoo hopes to capitalize on the growing popularity of daily contests. Fanduel, which also offers daily fantasy sports games, has the support of top investors like NBC Sports and the NBA. DraftKings, another rival, reportedly secured an investment from ESPN owner Disney, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Adding daily games will help Yahoo’s app appeal to “modern fans,” Simon Khalaf, Yahoo’s senior vice president of product and engineering, said in a statement.

For now, Yahoo’s daily contests focus only on Major League Baseball, but the company will add other sports at the start of their professional seasons. At launch, entry into daily games ranges from $1 or $5 or as low as $250. Prizes for winners can reach $50,000.