Australians are famous for our love of sport, and given it’s impossible to watch a broadcast of a sporting event without seeing at least a dozen ads for a sports betting website, it seems we love betting on it just as much.
While the explosion of sports stats and news sites has allowed punters to make more informed choices about their betting, it’s also seen fantasy sports – acting as a coach or general manager and putting together a team – shift from a pastime for only the nerdiest of sports fans to a regular aspect of sports fandom.
Two Australian entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to combine fantasy sports with betting and created Moneyball. The platform, named after the book about baseball’s stats revolution and its Brad Pitt movie adaptation, lets fans put their team selection skills to the test by playing fantasy football for money.
James Fitzgerald, co-founder of Moneyball, said that with the growth of betting sites and fantasy sports competitions like Supercoach, it made sense to create a platform blending the two.
“We were watching what was happening in the US with daily and weekly fantasy sports, and took inspiration from a couple of exceptionally well performing sites to recreate the experience for Australians, with sports appealing to Australians,” Fitzgerald said.
He brings up an interesting point: from fantasy sites run by sports leagues themselves through to those hosted by giants like ESPN and Yahoo, the market is incredibly crowded. However, Fitzgerald said he doesn’t see Moneyball as a competitor to the big platforms.
“We are complementary. Other platforms provide excellent products for either tipping or season long fantasy team management, usually as a free to play service. Moneyball.com.au on the other hand offers a pay to play, wagering proposition to fantasy sports, and we offer this over either a single day of games, or at most over a single weekend,” he said.
“We actually want people to keep playing the existing fantasy platforms, we love them ourselves and think that due to our different yet complementary formats, we’ll help grow each other’s business and the category as a whole.”
Fitzgerald sees this complementary relationship extending to sporting codes and leagues themselves.
“We’re all about sports and growing interest in sporting occasions, events and attendance. What’s good for the growth of a sporting code is good for us and vice versa, so we are very much about growing interest in teams and events,” he said.
After self-funding the development and launch of Moneyball, Fitzgerald and his co-founder Rax Huq recently secured investment to help the site grow in its early stages. They have also secured affiliate marketing partners.
“We are also talking with a number of clubs as well as leading media publishers about affiliate models. We also have plans for social and search marketing which will commence soon. With additional capital we will look to accelerate our marketing plans.”
Moneyball’s monetisation model sees the site charge users a fee to take part in a contest, which comes out as 10 percent of a contest prize pool. The platform is currently running a number of contests for each round of the NRL with varying numbers of participants, cost of entry fees, and in turn, worth of prize pools. Users can also create custom contests to play with other users they invite.
With the site’s launch set up to coincide with the start of the AFL and NRL seasons, the two are the only sports currently available on the platform. There are plans to add the English Premier League in August, A-League and NBA in October, and cricket in November.
“We want to grow to a healthy user base for NRL and AFL, and then grow our ‘summer sports’ from there. We are also very keen to talk to bookmakers internationally about licensing our technology for their markets,” Fitzgerald said.
Given sports fans love competition and holding bragging rights over their friends, Moneyball may prove popular with both serious wannabe coaches and general managers, and fans who just want to have a bit of fun with their sport. With entry fees for some contests starting at just $2 and custom contests allowing users to set their own price, the stakes don’t have to be all or nothing, meaning more people may be encouraged to take part.
Fitzgerald said, “We see ourselves as less of a wagering service and more of a destination for ‘mates’ to play their mates and win a bit of cash, and chest beating rights, from them.”